November 25, 2003

“WE HAD THAT IN COMMUNIST TIMES” — some interesting observations on the European Union from Czech President Vaclav Klaus:

Last week, the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg released a 400-page report that found “systematic problems, over-estimations, faulty transactions, significant errors and other shortcomings” in the EU’s budget. EU’s auditors could only vouch for 10 percent of the $120 billion the EU spent in 2002. It was also the ninth successive year the auditors were unable to certify the budget as a whole.

Europeans are yet to face such “serious underlying issues,” Klaus said, because “they are still in the dream world of welfare, long vacations, guaranteed high pensions, and cradle-to-grave social security, and which obviates the imperative need to face” reality.

The biggest challenge for the Czech republic, Klaus said, is how to avoid falling into the trap of “a new form of collectivism.” Asked whether he meant a new form of neo-Marxism, he said, “absolutely not, but I see other sectors endangering free societies.”

“The enemies of free societies today are those who want to burden us down again with layer upon layer of regulations,” president Klaus explained. “We had that in Communist times. But now if you look at all the new rules and regulations of EU membership, layered bureaucracy is staging a comeback.” The EU’s 30,000 bureaucrats have produced some 80,000 pages of regulations that the Czech republic and the other European applicants for EU membership would have to adopt.

He has some interesting thoughts on Iraqi reconstruction, too.