Charlemagne – Why the EU is becoming more like a Chekhov play | Europe

Charlemagne – Why the EU is becoming more like a Chekhov play | Europe

Jul 23rd 2020“IF IN THE first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” Anton Chekhov’s rule on writing

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“IF IN THE first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” Anton Chekhov’s rule on writing is a good one. The Russian author would have despaired at the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. At 154 pages in its consolidated version, it is a bit long. The prose lacks punch. More importantly, it is littered with unused firearms. Powerful weapons gather dust in the EU’s legal gun-cabinet. Article 222 obliges all EU states to pile in and help if a desperate national capital triggers it, which no one ever has. National capitals can sue each other in the European Court of Justice, although no one has tried it properly. Even the outlines of an EU army are there, if the members want it, which so far they do not.

Now, however, European officials are eyeing up the armoury. Hitherto unused, overlooked or reinterpreted rules provide the legal bedrock for renewed attempts to integrate the bloc in ways unimaginable a few months ago. Such rules were used to allow the EU to issue €750bn of collective debt and then hand it over to member states, with over half of that sum—€390bn—in the form of grants which will not be paid back. At first glance, this plan grinds against the clear principle that the EU is not liable for the debts of its national governments. Instead officials pointed to a vaguer article declaring that…



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