Brussels Goes Full 1984

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Brussels Goes Full 1984

The new unelected head of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen (above), has unveiled her new team of EU Commissioners. Their job descriptions and responsibilities are vauge, oddly overlapping and bound to cause confusion. This is Brussels bureaucracy at its worst.

Most Europeans pay scant attention to the detailed inner workings of Brussels politics, precisely because of the bewildering nature of its bloated bureaucracy. 

Von der Leyen, the EU Commission President, has just gone and made it even worse.

The former German defence minister has steered away from traditional ministerial titles and opted for more Orwellian names – which is at least more fitting!

Instead of getting a Commissioner for Defence or Foreign Policy, for instance, we are getting a “Commissioner for a Stronger Europe in the World.” There will also be a “Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight” who will apparently deal with regulation and a “Commissioner for an Economy that Works for People.”

It’s all very ‘Ministry of Truth’-esque.

One particular title has backfired spectacularly. The “Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life” will be dealing, partially, with immigration policy. The name has already been slammed as “fascist,” “grotesque” and an“infelicitous semantic choice”due to the alleged implication that Europeans need to be “protected” from immigrants.

The liberal outrage seems a little hasty though. Not merely because von der Leyen (who spent 14 years in Angela Merkel’s government) hardly has a history of extreme anti-immigrant stances under her belt – but because the ‘Way of Life’ commissioner will also be dealing with empowering the workforce in the digital age, education, culture, sport and...security. 

‘Way of Life’ will not encompass European ‘values,’ however. That’s been thrown in with ‘Transparency’.

Confused yet?

It turns out, then, that the main responsibility for immigration issues will actually fall to the ‘Home Affairs’ commissioner. He will deal with migration, internal security, radicalization and terrorism. Not unlike the ‘Stronger Europe’ commissioner, who will also focus on security issues — in addition to foreign policy.

This all seems like the opposite of efficient. 

Anyway, we’re supposed to be delighted and grateful because von der Leyen is a woman and her cabinet is “gender-balanced” – as if that was the quick-fix for Europe’s plethora of problems. 

Never mind that she’s gung-ho for a ‘European Army’ or that she and former convicted-of-negligence IMF chief-turned-ECB-boss Christine Lagarde are hardly going to bend over backwards working to address rampant inequality or smash the neoliberal status quo.

Oh well. At least with these new fancy-sounding, ill-defined job portfolios, Europe will get the appearance of change and reform, if not the substance. No wonder that, despite all the Project Fear warnings of Brexit doom, the majority of Brits still want out!

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