Recently, Der Spiegel released an eight page report drafted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy which explained Berlin’s position on the EU Cohesion policy after 2020. This report proposes a redistribution of financial wealth between rich and poor EU members that must take place over the next seven years.
Currently, the EU has mostly been providing financial support to Eastern European states, which are now being accused of their reluctance to admit refugees and of continuous violation of the basic values upon which the EU was supposedly founded. It’s been reported that the Polish national government has been the biggest troublemaker from the point of view of the European Commission. In general, both Brussels along with most developed European states are increasingly dissatisfied with signs of insubordination by Eastern European states. For more than a month, politicians from several countries of Western Europe, including the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, have been demanding financial sanctions be introduced against those unwilling to follow Brussels. Finally, a proposal to reduce the amount of financial assistance provided to these countries was made by the European Commission, reports Der Spiegel.
It seems that the European Union is to undergo radical reform. Germany proposes to divide the EU into two parts: the ruling center and the subjected periphery. There are serious reasons to believe that the practical implementation of such an idea will not just prevent all of the EU states from being “safe and prosperous” but result in the gradual disintegration of the European Union itself as a result.
In spite of arguments that such steps are necessary to ensure the future of the European Union, since they are allegedly aimed at preserving its unity and integrity, these controversial measures give rise to an ever increasing number of disputes within the so-called European family. The main obstacle standing in the way of everyone’s prosperous future is the initiative of “Europe of different speeds” introduced and promoted by Germany. This concept has already been supported by France, Italy, Spain and other Western European countries. However, such states like Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary and the Baltics are vigorously opposed to this initiative. Some Scandinavian countries were also disinterested.
Note that the idea of introducing “different speeds” in the EU first appeared in the twentieth century. It lies in the alleged possibility of coexistence of various states with different degrees of integration into the European community. It goes without saying that the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has already pledged his support to the idea of “two speeds”, which will effectively divide Europe into two blocs.
Those calls have quite predictably led to Eastern Europe states losing all political restraint, since they were treated as outcasts and disallowed in any process involving serious decisions. Those states that are now being publicly described as “inferiors” are afraid of being pushed aside by the founding states, Le Figaro notes. In fact, their outrage has never been so dramatic. We are witnessing Europe being sawed into pieces, but this time it’s not Russia that is diving the continent, notes the Bulgarian newspaper Sega.
According to the member of the European Parliament from Hungary, György Schöpflin, this recent attempt to revive the Europe of the 1950s seems to be some kind of inappropriate nostalgia.
Eastern European states are not simply opposing Brussels’ migration policies, they protest against the quotas that Germany wants to impose upon them. Those states are not particularly happy when they are demanded to allocate additional funds from their respective budgets to buy more arms as well. They bitterly oppose the policy of “double standards,” when Western enterprises disregard the interests of local manufacturers. It goes without saying that Brexit has aggravated the latent tension that exists between these two increasingly divided parts of the continent even further.
In turn Latvijas Avize claims that Europe has already been divided into “two speeds” long ago, stressing that there’s an insulting practice of dividing people into classes across the EU. The situation is now being aggravated even further by consumer experts from Slovakia, who have proven through tests that the same goods that were bought in Slovakia and Austria differ drastically in their quality. Thus, the existence of “second-class” Europe has already been proven by scientific methods, the newspaper notes. Moreover, there is also a Europe of the “third grade”, which is Ukraine, where a person is incapable of buying a decent cup of coffee or tea, no matter what sort of international brands he buys. In this regard, the publication expresses the hope that politicians of the periphery will have the courage to slow down this European project of “two speeds”.
Europe can be compared to a bicycle, notes Sueddeutsche Zeitung. If you’re not pedaling all the time, the force of gravity draws it to the ground. It may move, or it may fall, but there’s no third option.
These days the force of gravity is being felt across the EU more than ever. Almost everywhere in Europe those supporting the leave movement is rapidly gaining momentum. The British are already dropping out, the Poles and Hungarians are beginning to move in this direction. The reason for the future disintegration of the European Union will be Germany’s dominance and the pressure it applies on individual EU countries, as it’s been announced by the leader of the ruling Polish “Law and Justice” party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
In turn, Bloomberg would note that:
The idea of a European Union of many speeds, in which nations progress towards a union at their own pace, might be looked upon as something of a blackmail tool for the EU’s Big Four – Germany, France, Spain and Italy – to force the other 23 EU members to accept their leadership.
Meanwhile, the European Union has already begun to be divided into “two sorts”, as the aid to the countries of Eastern Europe, is being reduced. This is being explained by the fact that the huge financial injections into the countries of Eastern Europe and Greece did not bring any results, since the level of development of the latter two failed to catch up to the numbers shown by the leaders of the union.
Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”