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8/28/15

Europe - A patient in need of intensive care - by Martin Winter

The European Union has six difficult years behind it. But the coming years won't be any easier. The crisis doesn't mean the end of the idea of a peaceful European partnership, but it has certainly dispelled more than one European illusion.

The years of the financial and debt crises were both instructive and very bitter. Instructive, because they revealed the flaws in the political construction that, after the end of the Cold War, led the EU down the exuberant path of believing it was destined to be the new world power. Bitter, because they brought with them the realization that the member states lack the strength to fix these flaws.

Neither of the two big plans - meant to strengthen the EU to the outside and bind it closer together on the inside - had the desired effect. Just the opposite. The euro has brought not more political integration, but instead growing disintegration. Trust and solidarity have given way to distrust and old stereotypes. And the common foreign and security policy is still just a shadow of what the visionaries had hoped for.

Instead of being surrounded by friends and partners, the EU once again finds itself - as Britain's The Economist wrote - in a ring of fire. Europe and Russia are again arming themselves against each other. There's war in Ukraine. Unrest rules the Caucasus.

The wars in Syria and Iraq are threatening to drive the entire Middle East into the ground. The Arab Spring has devolved into an Autumn of Violence. Islamic State is expanding and becoming a potent threat to Europe.

Europe has become a patient in need of intensive care. The euro is limping along from one emergency operation to the next. When things get dicey on the foreign policy front, it's the big member states that again have to intervene. And they mostly act according to German, French or British interests.

The EU is still digesting the political and financial consequences of its eastern and southern expansion. And the current refugee crisis has shown that every EU state is looking out for No.1. The illusion born in the 1990s - that a common currency would automatically bring with it a political union - has shattered.

The crisis did not just expose the EU's construction flaws, it also revealed how they might be fixed. But this is where Europe's dilemma begins. No member state is prepared to relinquish national sovereignty over economic, social, and security issues to a European central government in order to save the grand idea of the EU.

The bloc has come a very long way since the first step toward its creation was taken in 1951. But the people are still not prepared to replace the current union of sovereign nations with a European federation.

Note EU-Digest: Great review by DW. Yes indeed, as long as we realize that this takes a combined effort of all EU nations to solve and that we don't listen to Nationalists like Geert Wilders and others who would like to turn back the clock to reestablish borders, national currencies and grocery style economics. One major priority for the EU should be to seriously review its Middle East and Eastern European foreign policies, which is presently linked to that of the US and has been a constant and historical source of.grief for the EU in every sense of the word. All we have to do is to look at the present avalanche of Middle Eastern and North African migrants now streaming into Turkey and the EU, and review the cause of it.

Read more: Europe - A patient in need of intensive care | Europe | DW.COM | 28.08.2015

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