The American Declaration of Independence famously gives as a ground for seeking democratic freedom that all citizens were endowed by their Creator with natural rights. Among them were Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Happiness — or the freedom to pursue of it — could therefore be considered as a good indicator of the health of a democracy and a free society.
The 20th of March was declared by the United Nations the International Day of Happiness. It presented a table based on a survey of the world’s happiest countries.
|The world’s happiest – and saddest – countries|
|1. Norway||146. Yemen|
|2. Denmark||147. South Sudan|
|3. Iceland||148. Liberia|
|4. Switzerland||149. Guinea|
|5. Finland||150. Togo|
|6. Netherlands||151. Rwanda|
|7. Canada||152. Syria|
|8. New Zealand||153. Tanzania|
|9. Australia||154. Burundi|
|10. Sweden||155. Central African Republic|
It is based on asking a simple question to 1000 people every year in more than 150 countries.
“Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top,” the question asks.
“The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
The average result is the country’s score – ranging from Norway’s 7.54 to the Central African Republic’s 2.69. But the report also tries to analyze statistics to explain why one country is happier than another.
It looks at factors including economic strength (measured in GDP per capita), social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption.
Europe did well. And so it should because, thanks to the Schuman Declaration and the first European Community that it engendered on 18 April 1951, Europe has become a zone of peace. It is living in the longest period of peace in all its history.
What is shocking from the table is that, among the first four countries, only one — Denmark — is a Member State of the present European Union. All the other three: Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, have refused in votes or referendums to become Member States of the present EU.
This should be considered a Warning Signal to Brussels. While many States that are struggling to exit from autocracy and corruption are willing to join the EU, those of the most democratic States do not think that Brussels is democratic enough.
The present leadership has discarded Community principles for a mish-mash of political opportunism called the European Union. The Community system that brought peace was based on a completely impartial European Commission. Today it boasts it is political. That means political in the wrong sense — party political. One Party, the EPP, the European People’s Party, has control not only of the presidency of Commission, but of the European Council and that of the European Parliament.
Any thinking person can see that is unhealthy. Just replace the EPP with another called the People’s Party — the Communist Party — designed to tell people what is best for them.
Power tends to corrupt. It is dangerous for any one party to control all the levers of power — especially the Commission which is supposed to be non-party political and an Honest Broker for Europe.
Europe’s Founding Fathers did not design any of these institutions to be under the thumb of one party. The European Council did not exist in the original Community Model.
It is a Gaullist idea. In 1961 Charles de Gaulle invented the idea of a Summit of Heads of State and Government to rule Europe as a secretive Directory. As the only Head of State present, de Gaulle himself would direct Europe with his own autocratic power. It was his scheme to keep OUT the British with their Mother of Parliaments and persistent obsession with democracy. In 1963 de Gaulle vetoed the UK’s first application to join the Communities. It was the first of many such vetoes against UK.
Robert Schuman, the founder of the European Community project, had a concept of Democracy that was more sympathetic to the principles of the American Founding Fathers.
Over the years by the introduction of the closed door European Council and insistence that discussions in the Council of Ministers and the EuroGroup system should be secretive Europe has moved nearer and nearer to de Gaulle’s model.
The Commission was asked:
“Does the European Commission have any suggestion how European Union Member States could become higher in this scale of happiness?”
The European Commission Spokesman replied: “The answer is No”.