Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'd argue that ordinary citizens never had any concrete notion what a European dream or -as Helmut Kohl used to say- a 'House of Europe' would look like. They (me included) were probably happy to enjoy the benefits of open borders and trade but a 'European state' still seems utopian and not very desirable. Case in point the Euro: a common currency for a collection of economically very heterogenous nations with little mobility between them. How was that supposed to work?

Why force all those different nations into some European superstate? As you mentioned, after WW2 we were doing pretty well. I have a hunch people (like in Ireland) will lose their taste for the EU project because of the pains hoisted on them by 'forced' integration.

After all, the EU members are still nation states with different languages, cultures, identities, political systems etc. How close can they be? How close should they be? I think it was Washington who said something like "don't hate and don't love other countries too much". This arranged marriage will have spouses veering towards divorce if some stable marital conditions don't return. How good is that for European peace?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat May 7th, 2011 at 03:04:32 PM EST
Because there are things which tin-pot little countries like France or Germany cannot possibly hope to manage on their own. Let alone polities the size of Ireland or Belgium, whose gross national product is on the same order of magnitude as CocaCola's advertising budget alone.

And if you create a network of European states that coordinate policy for all the major drainage areas on the subcontinent; coordinate their policies vis-a-vis transnats to withstand divide-and-conquer tactics; reduce the hassle of crossing internal European borders; streamline our rail net; build integrated rail and electricity corridors; and coordinate policy when dealing with other major powers like Russia, China and NATO...

... then it's going to look a whole lot like a "superstate."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat May 7th, 2011 at 05:50:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Compelling arguments, but for the fact that the way that the monetary union has been done looks to be leaving more and more Eurozone countries in perpetual penury to no higher benefit than short term domestic political advantage of the "leaders" of export surplus countries. The economic structure and its proper functioning is basic. Screw that up and all the rest doesn't really matter.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 7th, 2011 at 06:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... its the job of the monetary authority to regulate the behavior of commercial banks creating purchasing power and to accommodate the needs of the fiscal authority. Since the Eurozone was created with a central bank uninterested in doing its first job, unwilling to do its second, and in any event without a Eurozone fiscal authority for it to accommodate ...

... the devil makes work for idle hands.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 8th, 2011 at 08:01:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since the Eurozone was created with a central bank uninterested in doing its first job, unwilling to do its second, and in any event without a Eurozone fiscal authority for it to accommodate ...

At least it has an excuse for one out of three! The USA had all three forty years ago but has lost all three to "intellectual" and regulatory capture, though it has, on paper, ample authority do do all that is needed. The problem is that, even if the EU pursued fiscal union, given the attitudes that prevail, the ECB might still fail or refuse to do all three and even be applauded for those acts of incompetence and incapacity. Geithner did not face any real heat for having denied that he was ever a regulator, (undisputed truth), after all, even though it is equally a part of his former and current job description.

The problem is deeper than statutory limitations or requirements. It doesn't seem to matter what the law says. The pirates are in control.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 8th, 2011 at 09:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough. The article by Helmut Schmidt (see below), one of the grandfathers of the Euro, has some of the same reasoning about dealing with other major [rising] powers. The EU as the twigs bound together.

It does have a faint [Europe.Is.Doomed™ Alert] aspect to it, numerically justified it may be. Schmidt mentions the demographic shift which will cause the EU to represent only a few percent of world population. He explicitly sees the danger of Europe being "overrun by other people and civilizations" if it doesn't get its act together. Fortress Europe, that's a new one. I'm afraid we will see more of that. A comprehensive immigration strategy would be helpful but don't expect any major initiative in these semi-xenophobic times.

And there is the rub, the "major drainage areas" touch on very sensitive areas of national sovereignty. Economic policy, budgets, immigration, foreign policy, security policy. I could see a little progress on the security policy front if they go beyond protecting the outer borders of the EU. Not much though in how to deal with security challenges South and East. Ditto for the budgets with the Euro clamp now in place.

Foreign policy is a disaster, see Libya, see Iraq etc. Immigration is the hottest button. Try making hard calls with 27 members when (somewhat) unanimous decisions are required, then try to sell it to the national parliaments and peoples. A 'superstate' could maybe do that but who wants to relinquish so much control?

The EU parliament would have to be so much more than what it is now (a muckraking club). There would have to be an explicit EU government beyond the commission. There is a big chance it would sooner or later become dysfunctional because of its own complexity.

'Union' vs. 'Superstate' vs. 'Alliance' vs... I'm all for technical integration, the political part will maybe come over time as a result of that (and the EU constitution etc.) or it probably won't happen at all.

A few weeks back there was the funny spectacle of the German defense minister resigning over his plagiarized PhD thesis (now officially pronounced intentional plagiarism by the university). In the thesis an article was 'quoted'/copied that contrasted the different reactions to the EU constitution on both sides of the Atlantic. The Americans saw the EU constitution as analogous to their union constitution -the founding document of the USA- while the European reaction was much more measured and skeptical. I'm a European.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 06:38:48 PM EST
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