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EU Status check: not good
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The LA Times has an op/ed by Charles A. Kupchan which looks at the state of the European Union today:
EUROPE'S revolutionary experiment in political union is faltering.

In Britain and Poland in the last month, nationalistic parties uneasy with integration into the European Union have scored major advances. The EU constitution, rejected last year by France and the Netherlands, is dead in the water. Economic nationalism and protectionism are surging. The French, Italian, Spanish and Polish governments recently have taken steps to protect national industries from foreign takeover.
In all it only underscorse the difficulty in erasing nationalism, ethnicism and populism from centuries old nation states. Especially when those nation states aren't on economically equal footing despite being right next door to each other in some cases. Kupchan cites four basic reasons for the dimming outlook for a real European union:
First, Europe's paternalistic welfare states are struggling to survive the dual forces of European integration and globalization. Citizens are fighting back, insisting that the state reassert its sovereignty to block unwelcome change. When they voted down the EU constitution last May, many French citizens blamed the "ultra-liberal" EU for their economic woes. This spring, rioters took to France's streets to block labor reforms. Italians grumble that adopting the euro has depressed their economy.
Call the reaction of various groups parochial if you wish, but citizens who share a common language, culture and national identity for centuries aren't going to suddenly lay it all aside simply because a group of politicans decide that's a good idea. And, as with most projects such as this, it is one who's benefits were oversold. Now, with benefits simply not evident and with that with which they were comfortable (in this case the welfare state) slowly eroding, it isn't at all surprising they want to turn back the clock.

Then, to make matters worse, inject an unassimilated foreign culture:
Second, a combination of the EU's enlargement and the influx of Muslim immigrants has diluted traditional European identities and created new social cleavages. The EU now has 25 member-states at very different levels of development. Fifteen million Muslims reside within the EU, and Turkey, with 70 million Muslims, is knocking on the door. Too many of Europe's Muslims are achingly alienated, inviting radicalism. Unaccustomed to a multiethnic society and fearful of an Islamist threat from within, the EU's majority populations are retreating behind the illusory comfort of national boundaries and ethnic concepts of nationhood.
Unsurprisingly then, you get the third result:
Third, European politics is growing increasingly populist. Voters see both European and national institutions as elitist and detached. In France, the far-right National Front is enjoying unprecedented popularity; in a recent survey, one-third called the anti-immigrant party in tune with "the concerns of the French people." Polish voters recently elected a president, Lech Kaczynski, who insists that "what interests the Poles is the future of Poland and not that of the EU."
And, of course, the usual result of increased populism is to look inward, not outward. A European Union isn't possible with nation states looking inward and essentially uncomfortable with the changes such a union must impose.

The problem is even more aggravated by the lack of strong leadership within the Union:
Finally, Europe is lacking the strong leadership needed to breathe new life into the union. Governments in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome are fragile and preoccupied by their divided and angry electorates. Generational change is exacerbating matters. For Europeans who lived through World War II and its bitter aftermath, the EU is a sacred antidote to Europe's bloody past. But this generation is passing, and younger Europeans have no past from which they seek escape — and no passion for political union.
The EU is run by bureaucrats to whom no one has any loyalty and connection. And, as Kupchan notes, those nations who might produce the leadership necessary to right the EU's ship aren't in any position to do so. Most are simply trying to survive politically themselves.

A sad state of affairs, but Kupchan says that while it is adrift, it isn't about to sink. He thinks two immediate changes may save the Union:
They should scrap the belabored EU constitution in favor of a leaner document with a few key provisions — appointment of an EU president and foreign minister and reform of decision-making. Only a more capable union can make the EU more relevant to its citizens.
I have to question his optimism. While it was an interesting experiment to watch unfold, it ran smack dab into the face of an immovable object, that of human nature. And human nature, on the whole, is averse to change unless it can see, feel, hear and touch the advantages to doing so. The EU has promised a lot, but not delivered what was expected. Without their expectations being fulfilled (however unrealistic they may be) many Europeans have become disenchanted with an idea which seems to be making life harder, not better.

How they'd react to a new, improved constitution or an actual President of the EU would be interesting to see, but my guess is, it would be too little, too late. The EU is already tainted with failure and circling the drain. Without a miracle, it is probably destined to follow in the foot steps of the League of Nations and other good ideas on paper which never panned out in reality.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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care to back up that a claim I would call rather wild-eyed with some sort of shred of evidence? I know it’s a prediction, but even predictions usually have something to point to as evidence that the prediction as likely to happen.

Or is this just wish fulfillment and shallow thinking?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
care to back up that a claim I would call rather wild-eyed with some sort of shred of evidence? I know it’s a prediction, but even predictions usually have something to point to as evidence that the prediction as likely to happen.
Premise and comments.

Check.

4 reasons that support the premise (usually recognized by even mediocre minds as "backing up the claim") and comments.

Check.

Summary and "solution".

Check.

My disagreement with the solution and why.

Check.

Ignorant comment by Glasnost.

Check:
Or is this just wish fulfillment and shallow thinking?
Hey Glasnost, if you disagree, be good enough to tell me why, but you do yourself a disservice when you simply act like an ignorant jackoff.

You have to be a graduate of Central ... or teach there. No one who leave as poor a comment as the above would be admitted anywhere else.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
To paraphrase glasnost -
"Evidence? What evidence? We don’t see no steeen-king evidence!"

Yeah, uh, right. I guess voting down the EU constitution is a sign of successful endeavor bound to move forward continent wide!

The only thing that will make these guys all fall in line, is a strong man, which in itself would make the EU something other than the EU. National Self interest will, not surprisingly, rule the day.

This is why career politicians( & kings, ministers, and emperors) are so fun to watch. I think they had less hubris when there was no UN to convince them they were important to anyone but their own nation and nations they bordered on (who they could annoy economically and militarily).
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Prof. Kupchan in his very good analysis missed out one very important factor.
Granted EU is at crisis but even the most ardent Euroskeptics are not running at the door, not even a single nation wants to leave the union! On the contrary scores of other nations nock at the door to get in. And the answer is very simple, EU with all its problems and faults is the only game in Europe, there is no viable alternative! It is like a the democracy having many problems but at the end it is better than the alternatives.
All EU needs, is a good rest from the rapid expansion to sort out its rules and its identity. It is like an adolescent after growing too fast is going through an identity crisis.
 
Written By: vs
URL: http://
And the answer is very simple, EU with all its problems and faults is the only game in Europe, there is no viable alternative!

Of course there are viable alternatives, one being the status quo. To pretend that the EU is the only game in town is to deny where it stands today. A functioning Europe, albeit still a collection of nation states, with a single currency and more open borders. And that may very well be where it ends up.

Knocking on the door of an economic entity is not the same as wishing to give up your national identity. And I think that is what is happening now ... a realization by some of the EU members that they can have some of the promised benefits without losing (or giving up) themselves and their culture in a "greater Europe".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
My comment could have used some more specificity as to what I considered shallow thinking and wish fulfillment. I’ll grant you that! :-)

I thought most of the analysis wasn’t half-bad, but you spoiled it, in my IMHO, with a very reckless and unsupported prediction of the EU’s impending demise. I don’t see the financial markets predicting the dissolution of the EU. I don’t see the DoD coming up with analyses assuming that. Frankly, I don’t see any serious institutions making that sort of claim.

So, I’m not the one out on a limb here. What makes you leap from some reasonable challenges facing the EU to assuming its impending demise?

Or, looking at your last response, do you wish you’d said something like, "the EU may not be headed for the absorption of future members as quickly as during the 90’s, rather than something like "my guess is, it would be too little, too late. The EU is already tainted with failure and circling the drain. Without a miracle, it is probably destined to follow in the foot steps of the League of Nations and other good ideas on paper which never panned out in reality.

I apologize that I don’t see a prediction of the EU "circling the drain" as a realistic or well-supported hypothesis. The problems you state are all comparable to problems faced by many other individual nations that are not crumbling left and right, last time I checked. The rejection of the EU constitution ... did what, exactly, accept temporarily halt *further integration? Do you see any serious political movements in any member states with "total withdrawal from the EU" as part of their platform? What’s the closest comparison you can come up with?

In short - to say it a little more politely this time, apologies all around, "Evidence, please?"

You have to be a graduate of Central

Central what?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
In short - to say it a little more politely this time, apologies all around, "Evidence, please?"
It’s an opinion slugger, that’s why they call ’em "op/ed". Argument has been made, you disagree and have had your say, also an opinion. All is right with the world.
You have to be a graduate of Central

Central what?
Central Arkansas, of course.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The E.U. is casting about for some sort of raison d’etre.

I viewed it’s recent negotiated energy deal with Putin, ostensibly conducted on "Europe’s" behalf, as the machinations of an impotent lover trying to prove to France, Germany, and Denmark, that he can still get it up!

But can the E.U. "keep it up"? That’s the question.
 
Written By: grass
URL: http://
EU is not at the point of dissolving by any stretch of the imagination. The political system of nation-state is questioned not only by EU, but by NATO, WTO, and the globalization in general. EU has hit a fork at the road, there are two visions for the future. A NAFTA type, of ever expanding free trade block favored by the UK, and an ever closer union of peoples and states favored by Germany and France. These two visions are vigorously debated and at the end if you ask me there goanna be a Grand Compromise. Compromise is the trade mark of post WWII Europe, there is not going to be a dissolution of the EU into 30+ small nation-states.
I can almost see the compromise. Yes there is going to be farther expansion of the trading block, and eventually (potentially) EU can stretch all the way from Rekevik to Vladivostok and encompassing all the Mediterranean countries including Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Ukraine and Russia etc. At the same time countries that feel the need to come closer together by harmonizing their laws (not erasing their cultures) they will be allowed to proceed expanding the Eurozone. Nobody will be forced in or out of the EU or its inner core as long they meet the criteria. EU is a voluntary union of free peoples and democratic states. Anyone is free to leave the union without causing a Civil War.

EU has always moved two steps ahead and one back, we have past of breaking apart point long time ago. Europe won’t become a melting pot of cultures, it will always be a mosaic of cultures, and by its nature it will always be less efficient and less productive than the US.
If that is the price to pay for maintaining the culture and the history and 50+ languages so be it. Many people are happier keeping their culture than earning more, as for the rest there is always America.
 
Written By: vs
URL: http://

 
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