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EU And US: A Relationship Of Concern

gnore the world. Accordingly, they do not appreciate reminders that, like it or not, the rest of the world is out there. Worse, some of its “leading leaders” have rabies and “bite”. Aware of the provocation, Duly Noted has often indulged in its own version of “globalism”. In doing so, the European Union had received much attention.

If by your unearned luck you are an American reader, you wonder why the EU should be of concern to you. The evolvement of the Union will determine the quality of that entity and thereby its worth as a major ally. A federation might emerge that will, in a future crisis, be “neutral against the USA”. If some of this is true, the way Europe’s content will develop is of geopolitical significance.

Be reminded that Europe is a major world player. However, by its choice, it punches well under its weight class. With 500 million inhabitants and members rated as leading economies and with three of them listed among the great powers –England, France and Germany- Europe matters. It also counts as it had generated the forces that made the modern world. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, modern science, from rocketry to cybernetics is, besides some key components of democracy, Europe’s contribution to the present. At the same time, two world wars and some of destructive systems of mass murder - Fascism, National Socialism and Communism- are also European products. 

Viewed globally, Europe’s achievements - rounded out by the contribution of her overseas extensions- have made it a culture of reference. However, the caveats of that evaluation counsel to caution.

By the 20th century, the highs achieved in the arts, science, medicine, economics, have been unmatched by the Continent’s political performance. Staging the world wars expresses that. Europe’s efforts to protect past achievements and to project these into the future have been less than satisfactory. This holds especially true in the post WW2 period when the independence of Western Europe had to be maintained –even after the post-war recovery- by an extra-European power.

Europe’s weakness is caused by an amalgam. Its components are failing vision, misjudged threats, unfounded assumptions about security, and an unwillingness to sacrifice to protect values declared non-negotiable.

An adjunct is to be added. Politicians are inclined to underrate threats, so they promise to voters that should know better that there are no enemies, and that the proclaimed intentions of these are not meant seriously. The notion of “security for free” is a drug. Its lulling consumption is difficult to cut when illusions dissipate and resistance is called for.

Disturbing trends emerge once the Union’s development is examined. To begin: the analogy of the United States of America and the United States of Europe is misleading. America’s union project –even if there might have been an emerging Southern nation- has not encountered functioning, historical and conscious national entities. The Civil War has determined that America would not continue to develop as a confederation. Given “federalism’s” practice, the components of an expanding USA could live with that result.

East or West, Europe is peacefully and consensually not unifiable the way “United” in “United States” suggests. To create a unitary state here, one needs to weld together what does not wish to fit together. Europe’s states are not administrative conveniences but the products of diverging traditions and languages. Since Europe is an entity without a matching people, any plan to unite it administratively while also upholding liberty and identities, implies a commitment to contradictory concepts. This testifies to ignorance, to the pursuit of a hidden agenda –or both.

The foregoing should not be taken to indicate that some sort of a European Union must be a threat to the collective personality of its member nations. Decisive is the nature of the federation that can be had, while the values of democracy and the goal of prosperity are preserved.

Therefore, the question is what kind of a union is achievable that does not make the resulting entity into a “jailhouse of nations” as was the Russian Empire, the empire of the Habsburgs, Hitler’s Reich and Stalin’s uncompleted project.

By such standards, disturbing problems emerge. The original concept of an EU had been to guarantee the independence of sovereign states that were committed to defend shared values. These were “democracy”, limited self-government to cultivate localism, and a free market. The collective pursuit of shared objectives assumed freely extended cooperation among like-minded states. This is the juncture where the original principle departs from contemporary practice.

Operating a federation demands patience and the modesty of its managers. Europe’s tradition of centralism, enhanced by the natural craving for power, has resulted in a construction that defies its original purpose. 

Read more: EU And US: A Relationship Of Concern | The Brussels Journal

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