THE European Union has always been characterised by supreme arrogance. Its leaders combine a contempt for democracy and nationhood with a messianic belief in their ideology of federal unity.
But now their imperiousness has reached new heights, based on the theory that their cherished project is back on track after years of crisis.
This renewed self-righteous fervour is reflected in their increasing bullishness towards Britain over Brexit, highlighted by their extortionate claim for a “divorce” payment of more than £80billion.
The surging cockiness of Brussels is built on two factors.
The likely triumph of Angela Merkel, the cold, scheming architect of modern Europe, in September’s German election will only reinforce the EU’s feeling of superiority.
The other factor is the first evidence of growth in the eurozone economy following a long period of stagnation and decline.
We have good news coming from all quarters of the European Union
“We have good news coming from all quarters of the European Union,” declared Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, last month.
Yet such optimism is not just complacent, it is delusional. In reality the EU, ruined by its own chronic flaws, is still on course for disaster.
Brexit negotiators are demanding more than £80bn from the UK for Brexit
All the rhetoric about an economic recovery is wildly overblown. Most of the structural problems that caused the last crisis are still in place. Public finances are too weak, deficits too high.
Compared with the US and the Far East the eurozone is hopelessly uncompetitive, weighed down by bureaucracy, heavy taxation and costly social security.
Europe has only seven per cent of the world’s population yet accounts for no less than 50 per cent of the world’s welfare expenditure.
Only last week two regional Italian banks had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. Just as damaging is the EU’s obsession with political integration to build the federal superstate.
That goal is bound to provoke instability and public anger because by its very nature it means trashing democracy, obliterating national identities, eroding sovereignty and elevating the role of an unelected, centralised oligarchy.
But by far the most destructive feature of EU rule is the permanent social revolution inflicted by open borders, free movement and the dogma of multiculturalism.
Smug figures such as Macron and Merkel like to claim that mass immigration has brought prosperity and vibrancy but the vast, unrelenting foreign influx has been a wrecking ball at the heart of European society.
Emmanuel Macron’s victory over Marine Le Pen is seen as a victory for the European project
According to Brussels’ own figures, in January 2016 there were 35 million people living in the EU who were born outside its territory.
No less than 17 per cent of Sweden’s population is foreignborn, while the figure for Belgium, at 16.3 per cent, is not much lower.
But these are just the official statistics, which may be a severe underestimate.
Britain’s migrant population is certainly much higher than the Government is willing to admit.
Since January 2015, 1.47 million migrants have arrived in Europe by sea, 101,210 of them in the past six months.
Rather than trying to deter this flood the EU has effectively laid on a gigantic ferry service masquerading as a rescue operation to lift migrants from the African shoreline to mainland Europe.
Unsurprisingly this approach has only encouraged the opening of more routes and the gathering of ever greater numbers in North Africa.
Since January 2015, 1.47 million migrants have arrived in Europe by sea
While EU leaders comfort themselves with their self-serving propaganda, the public has to live with social dislocation and broken civic infrastructures, with alien, misogynistic cultures and the fear of murderous jihadism.
Brussels wants to sing of success but the death knell is sounding for European civilisation.