Whereas most of us in the UK are still at work, eurocrats in Brussels have already started celebrating Christmas. The Christmas tree in the European Parliament was pulled down on Monday already, indicative of the premature start of EU officials´ Christmas break. Indeed, what use is it having a Christmas tree, with barely anyone around to enjoy it.
Thus rather surprisingly, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee this morning squeezed in a last meeting. A handful of MEPs felt the urge to sharing their feelings of upset about countries in Europe reinstalling border controls. They feared the end of Schengen and even the collapse of the ´European project´. In my mind the best news we heard in years. According to MEPs, however, open borders by no means were a problem; instead it was the Member states that set up border controls that are to blame.
The subsequent intervention of my Swedish colleague Kristina Winberg was spot on, as always. She asked whether the Commission recognises that Schengen open borders have contributed to making the terrorist attacks in Paris easier. She also asked what is more important, the rights and priorities of citizens to feel safe or having open borders?
A quite hilarious moment in the meeting was the Freudian slip by a Member of the Liberals, when he talked about systematic checks on EU nationals to identify ´socialists´. What he meant to say was ´terrorists´, but quite an interesting suggestion nevertheless.
Then to finish the year on a high note, the Commission has awarded itself a 2.4% pay increase, backdated six months. At home, our nurses and teachers are expected to accept a 1% increase. Unaccountable, unelected and paid for by us.
Most of the europhiles, however, will celebrate Christmas fully aware that it was a dreadful year for their ´European project´. For us in the UK it may very well be the last Christmas we spend stuck in the EU, for in 2016 we shall Brexit. On that positive note I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy ´Brexit´ year.