The truth often hurts, especially when it comes from an unexpected source. The reality of the European Union’s perpetual crises is hurting the very people the bloc was created to protect and comfort. Lest we forget why we put governments in place, let me remind every reader that our leadership is supposed to make us happy.
The EU simply cannot operate as a democracy. This is the first and foremost problem the bloc of nations is encumbered with. I was reading this morning a report from an unlikely source, about the hopeless nature of EU politics and economics. Author Helen Thompson wrote in her Foreign Affairs report “Broken Europe” in 2018, about the endless crisis the people of the EU must tolerate. The author was concerned about the ongoing debt situation back then, but her words resonate even more loudly today, as a pandemic threatens to end the union.
“Stuck with an unworkable currency union, the EU can neither accommodate democracy in its member states nor suppress it. The result is likely to be the continuation of the pattern over the last decade: crisis after crisis with no lasting solution.”
“Unworkable”, this is the essence of the disjoined European Union responsible to almost half a billion people. The grandbaby of the European Economic Community (EEC) established in 1951, was born in turmoil, and the community created to bolster original members Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany, has almost wrecked outlying countries. The real problem the bloc faces can be simplified if one understands the term and the idea behind Reichsidee (“imperial idea”). Though few in Brussels or Berlin will ever admit it, the formation of the EU supra-national rule over the continent. I suppose it’s only a coincidence that EU headquarters is in Belgium.
In 2013, Boston-based intellectual property expert and former Harvard Overseer Bill Lee framed best, how the EU was a failed experiment. Lee asserted that the EU has failed in its most important test. Here’s a prospectus from the learned Harvard expert from seven years ago:
“My guess is that Europe will muddle on trying to “reform” the EU system around the margins. European economists and officials will likely remain steadfast in their belief that their policies have been right all along, that all they need is yet more time, and that the real fault lies with the moral defects of those living in the periphery nations — who must be compelled to do what’s good for them and for the EU as a whole.”
Prophetic, wasn’t he? Lee goes on to say the current EU system is reminiscent of old Europe. He also insists that a workable EU project would require true centralized power. On this count, as we all know, the only true power in Europe is centered in Luxembourg and German banks. During the Second World War, Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill prophesied about “restoring the true greatness of Europe”, once final victory over fascism was achieved.
Churchill was not the only leader predisposed to harken back idealistically to former European greatness. Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler based much of his ideology on the Middle Ages, and Europe resembling the Holy Roman Empire days. C. W. Guillebaud, in The Economic Journal
Vol. 50, No. 200, from December of 1940, even lays out the German Führer’s “new” economic plan for the continent. Allow me to quote for you a telling passage from this Oxford journal:
“There was an interesting period lasting for some centuries, which had its culmination point in the fourteenth century, when the trade and commerce of almost the whole of Europe, apart from the Mediterranean and Southern France, was dominated by the Germans of the Hanseatic League, with their chief center in Lübeck.”
The Hanseatic League, for those unfamiliar, was created so that its founding members (cities) could take advantage of all the economic weaknesses of all their neighboring people. So, you see, the ideas that were the seeds that brought for the EU, they were not original at all. Hitler also studied the writings of a man named Friedrich Naumann, who wrote a book entitled “Mittel Europa”, about a form of Pan-Germanism. According to Naumann, a confederation made up of German, Austro-Hungary, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and the Balkans would serve as a “regulated economic union”. I know some readers are registering an “Aha!” moment here.
We needn’t dive into deep history here. And I certainly cannot translate for you exactly, the German term Grosswirtschaftsraum to clarify my points. The long and short of this term is that without taking advantage of her neighbors, Germany can never be in the class with the UK, the US, Russia, France, Japan, or any of her contemporaries. It is important to understand this, for us to grasp the failures of the European Union. The bloc simply cannot work economically, not to the benefit of all. And it was never intended to.
Think about it, economists were writing about a system like the EU back in the 1940s when Germany was about to take military and economic control of the continent. Hitler’s Minister of Finance in 1940 wrote that the southern and eastern European countries in this new economic system “should be discouraged from industrialization” so that they could produce more food.
Today, the world is in a pandemic crisis that will end in a gigantic economic upheaval. In Brussels, the talk is all talk and doling out funds borrowed from the people who have always run Europe. The subjugated nations, countries like Greece, coronavirus-stricken tourism is propped up with German loot, and German tourists spirited here by cash strapped TUI and Lufthansa. At the end of the day, Greeks will pay dearly for the privilege of welcoming these COVID Summer seasonal tourists, and EU citizens will foot the bill for World Bank and IMF help.
This quote from a recent article at The Economist is meaningful, and the perfect finisher for my report on the state of the European Union:
“The EU’s main response to the COVID-19 crisis—a flagship €750bn recovery fund paid for with debt issued collectively by the eu—is based on a plan cooked up in Berlin and Paris. The Germans are running the show.”
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”