OP-ED: The Deteriorating Ideal of Europe (the European Union)

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“Foreign and defense policy, in judicial and internal affairs, and in the creation of an economic and monetary union – including a common currency.” – The European Union

If the Italians are an expert in the art of La Dolce Far Niente (“the sweetness of doing nothing”) then the French are an expert in the art of de parler beaucoup et ne rien faire (“talking a lot and doing nothing”). The French discussions often involve yelling, insults, and soliloquys on taboo topics such as sex, politics, and religion. The more nihilistic the tone, the more sophisticated the conversation!

Their fatalistic conversation is often a small catharsis from what might be brewing beneath the surface. It’s a necessary exercise, because when the French decide to mobilize en masse things get guillotine-y.

Which is nothing compared to what happens when the calm, punctual German thinks it’s time for a fundamental, national change…

But that’s what we’re seeing throughout France and Germany. The famous tranquility of Europe, the calmness and temperateness of age that they lorded over the far more volatile American cousins is slowly being chipped away and replaced with strikes, riots, demonstrations, and political discontent.

IMG_3688The pan-European politico-economic system started in 1992 by Helmud Kohl of Germany and Franz Mitterand of France can now be considered a failed experiment in international relations. That system is called the European Union given the impression that it’s failed at “preserving the functioning European “state” and the protection of its citizens” (Breitbart).

Since 2012, the existence of the Islamic State, “the total number of terrorist attacks and related arrests in the EU significantly increased … in contrast to previous years. This and other findings in the report describe a threat from terrorism that remains strong and varied in Europe.” (Source: EUROPOL). Though the EU and Europol say that “the fight against terrorism remains a top priority”, many of the attacks throughout the European Union were failures in intelligence sharing (NATO.int), and the insecurity of the Schengen space’s open borders.

There are cracks in the foundation, starting from the criteria of an independent state or country; Internationally recognized land and borders (even if border disputes exist); Has permanent residents; Has sovereignty so that no other country has power over its territory; Has organized economic activity that regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money; Has a transportation network for moving goods and people; Has an education system; Has recognition from other independent states.

The implementation of the European Union hinders the sovereignty of the state, which limited the state government’s authority to regulate its domestic trade and issue money as well as defend the security of their borders.

Art in Maidan Square. Kiev, Ukraine. July 2014.
Art in Maidan Square. Kyiv, Ukraine. July 2014.

Once, if you took a bus from Budapest, you could have into the rest of the Schengen Space without so much as opening your passport. That was last year. The borders of a nation aren’t respected, or even in existence when it comes to ground transport, as part of this “Theory” of the European Union, with open borders in order to resemble something like the USA. The problem is, the “states” within the USA aren’t nation states or even independent states (no matter what Texans believe), but are entities of local governments within a federal system called the “United States of America”. The name of my country can be somewhat misleading, as the United States is a nation-state.

Europe’s pen borders plus the influx of refugees means it no longer has a stable or controlled population. Terrorists hide amongst the refugees because there’s a poor system of vetting and surveillance, while there’s huge external pressure to allow quick admittance. There’s the thought that we must morally help refugees, and simultaneously no means or will to actually implement policies to ensure the safety of the current population, or to even provide for the refugees themselves other than throwing money at them.

The European citizen is stuck between a nation-state that no longer meets the criteria of an independent state, and a pan-European union that simultaneously strips countries of its autonomy, but fails to have the authority or influence the pan-Europic cooperation. No one forced the French and Belgian police departments to cooperate and share information with one another in advance of ISIS attacks (Washington Post, The Atlantic). Once again, it was the European citizen that suffered.

That would be the equivalent of New York Police Department not sharing information with California Police Department, because their state-level secrets are more important than the cooperation through the United States as a whole. If Europe insists on open borders, they must cooperate and unify for the safety and security of the so-called European.

Though Germany wants to lead an initiative for a European Army (New Europe), it falls far short of the necessary European Border Guards who share information and operate under the same standards, or a European Police Force or Bureau of Investigations who would have a holistic approach to viewing crimes which take place in two or more European countries.

Will something similar to the American federal system work for Europe? Well, the resurgence of old of feudal national identities and their snowballing support would indicate that no, in fact, it wouldn’t.

Nationalist movements like Marine Le Pen’s Front National (France) or Matteo Salvini’s Northern League Movement (Italy) promote the idea that this is the end of the European Identity. Their more radical aspects live under a myth of a future civil war between themselves and the “global imperialists” (which I suppose means anyone considered leftist). Young men go to these military training camps or head out into the wilderness to test their survival skills for this very reason… the other reason is often an excuse to go into the wilderness and drink (do what you gotta do…).

It has been, and largely still is, taboo to speak badly of the European Union, even in the liberal conversations that might occur on the Parisian terrace. But one cannot deny that this is the time that they must dig in and make radical changes, or crumble away, leaving the authority solely on the shoulders of the historical, feudal nations.

The largest city within the EU is London, which will soon decide if it will #BREXIT (Exit the EU).

With the numerous problems such as the Greek elections, the Spanish banks, national and international farmers and workers strikes there seems to be one clear cut barrier to any proposed solution: The German Veto.

Most serious proposals to resolve the euro crisis since 2009 were vetoed by Germany (Reuters). The push to take in refugees without having the means of taking care of them, or providing security for the citizens already in the country seem to all circle around a single figured – Mother Merkel, President of Germany.

Art in Kyiv's Maidan Square, 1 August 2014.
Art in Kyiv’s Maidan Square, 1 August 2014.

For such a large number of nation-states to cede some of their sovereignty to an overarching entity is unique. The fact that they gave so much power to Germany was also unusual. The result has been a European political and economic murder-suicide pact that’s becoming harder to break with each passing year.

So the terrorist attacks no longer happen in one country, but happen in multiple, with the possibility of a multi-national, large-scale attack in the future. There is also the internal European threat of sinking themselves economically, which has grave implications for the rest of the world, as Europe is still, collectively, the largest economy in the world.

So, as one AP journalist in Italy blogged, “Get a Grip, Europe!

And if you can’t get a grip, then the various parties of the pan-European relationship need to decide to have an amicable breakup, bolster up their borders, and resume their long tradition of neighbourly love-hate relations.

Frankly, there aren’t that many people who would really mind, because they miss the old Europe. The one where things were far more affordable, national identities were more profound; where the French smoked cigarettes on the terraces, talking about nihilistic philosophy in a way that makes no sense to an un-cultured American brute like myself, but is finger-snapping profound to everyone else. Nostalgic are we for an old Europe where the Spaniards and the Italians compete over who is more relaxed, and more Latin. It was a beautiful Europe where their national competition of who has the best food, the best wine, the best women, and the best lovers is a matter of national pride.

Come on, Europe. We all love you. Please get your shit together.

FURTHER READING:

European Experiment Comes to a Reckoning by Simon Nixon (Wall Street Journal).

The E.U. Experiment has Failed by Bruce Thornton (Hoover Institute)