On this, the last day of the year 2010 I thought it might be suitable to make some predictions about things to come in Europe.
The end of the euro – in its present form – will come closer. We will probably see one large euro country (Spain or Italy?) failing in the same way as Greece and Ireland. The bailing out costs will be too high in this case – the Germans are not anymore ready to continue as paymasters.
The end of the euro co-operation will be the beginning of the end of the EU in its present form.
This is a natural process, because all empires and similar structures will at some stage cease to exist or change to something else.
One could, of course, also argue that the EU actually – as a result of the euro crisis – will develop faster towards a federal state. However, this is not at all likely because of at least the following circumstances:
- The member countries are too different politically, culturally and economically.
- The construction of the EU has hitherto been done from the top downwards. The citizens have been left behind, but they are not anymore willing to accept this. In other words, there is an enormous democratic deficit in the present EU.
- Among the present leaders of the EU countries nobody has the capacity to convince the citizens about the necessity of a federal Europe.
The coming changes need not be bad – on the contrary. The end of the present day euro co-operation is not going to be the kind of grand catastrophe that many scaremongering politicians and economists pretend. Of course, there will be problems before a new European monetary system (with one strong currency led by Germany?) is in place, but the world has seen bigger changes without catastrophic consequences.
And neither is the end of the “ever closer union” ideology going to spell ruin for European co-operation in other areas. Meaningful co-operation – e.g. free trade, single market, educational and cultural co-operation – will continue and even be enhanced.
These changes will not take place in one or two years. The inertia of a large dying structure like the present EU means that the process towards a better EU “light” will take many years. But all good things are worth waiting for ...
I just found an interview with a British MEP, who pretty much appears to share my belief:
“The Soviet Union lasted for about 70 years, the European Union has just lasted for about 50 years [meaning beginnings of the European Economic Community] and I would not be at all surprised to see the same pattern, I think, in 20 years time. There may be something that is called European Union but I think it will look very different and be much less influential than it is today.”