European Union: is it a good thing? Will it last? Posted on June 24, 2011 by thebigqs 3 comments Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related History International Relations Politics & Society
Obviously this is a little biased but I wanted to put a video in, lol. What do you think about the EU today? Is it a good thing? And with all the right wing skepticism, particularly in the light of the Greek crisis, can the EU possibly survive the twenty first century?
A question worthwhile to be asked on yearly basis perhaps.
If the initial goal was to prevent peace among European nations through tight economic integration, then we might say that the purpose was accomplished.
There was no war among Western European countries since WW2 (except conflicts with former colonies of Portugal, France, etc.)
No other union of culturally different countries has succeeded so far to prevent internal wars (see Yugoslavia & USSR).
However, tons of disfunctionalities menace EU, to name a few:
– corruption at national & EU level
– lack of EU-wide equal fiscal legislation & control
To make things even more complicated, there is no sign of mutual comprehension of countries with different juridical systems: common law vs. Napoleonic law.
I think most of the obstacles are technical ones:
– harmonisation of fiscal regulations at least for unique currency countries
– common foreign policy position of EU towards Russia, China, US of A
– common energy market
– common block economical negotiations with Switzerland, Cayman Islands, etc.
On the other hand, looking at the bright side free movement of individuals across borders are invalidating prejudices and make nationalist propaganda less viable.
If it will survive XXI century remains to be seen. Highly likely if individuals believe in it.
What do you think?
Hi Adrian, thanks for your comment!
I pretty much entirely agree with you. I particularly like that you start with the role that the EU has had in keeping peace. When the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 it was viewed as a laughable decision, and perhaps with reference to 2012 alone it was. But when people argue that the EU’s role was to restore peaceful, amiable relations after WW2 and that that has now been achieved, they completely miss the bigger picture. The EU continues today to reduce and even entirely avoid tensions between different European actors. Were it to cease to exist, tensions would be higher, negative speculation would dominate the market, and trade would definitely suffer – free market or not.
However you’re also entirely right to say that in its present state the EU often seems “dysfunctional”. Monetary union without fiscal integration, and particularly between economies of such varying sizes, is barmy. Cultural and linguistic integration is not taking place on anywhere near the timescale that would have been desirable to its founders. And the politics seems completely out of sync with European societies. But this isn’t even solely a matter of democracy as people commonly assume. Despite the fact that transparency is one of the major areas of activity within and by the EU institutions, no one seems to know anything about what it does. And that’s made worse by the fact that people try to hush up political decisions. Take the so-called “travelling circus” of moving from Brussels to Strasbourg and back for instance. Given the administrative requirements of moving files and getting adjusted, an MEP’s assistant says the below:
“In that Strasbourg week, you lose a day by travelling,” she says. “Everybody, every individual loses at least one day. The assistants are lucky in that respect that we only lose half day going there and half a day back but some of the MEPs don’t get there in one day.”
The common consensus is that all the moving about is inefficient and undesirable, but for France having an office in Strasbourg is a matter of political pride. And that’s pretty much all there is to it, for to accept a change every country has to agree. But when one of my neighbours went to his MEP to ask why it was the case, he didn’t get a clear answer. And why not? What’s the incentive for keeping such a piece of information covered up? It just makes everything seem more suspicious and opaque.
As for whether the EU will survive the century my gamble is that it will. However the problem is that today it is seen as cool to be anti-EU, and even anti politics. That is a big problem, and one which could well challenge the EU’s existence. For political without social integration, even discounting economics, international relations etc, is always going to be doomed to fail in the long run. If the EU is going to go into the 22nd century stronger than it went into the 21st, that societal integration is a number one priority.