European Union (EU)
The European Union (EU) has come a long way from the initial European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) created by six founding countries some 60 years ago. Today, it is a community of 27 member states that is nothing like a market compact and far more reminiscent of Charlemagne's pan-European Holy Roman Empire. The Maastricht Treaty created the current European Union in 1993; the Lisbon Treaty considerably expanded and centralized its powers.
There are many aspects to the confusing EU political structure, which has grown like a bad weed as the EU has expanded and added powers. There is the EU Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Central Bank. A European Parliament elected by EU citizens serves five years at a time.
In truth, however, many have pointed out that despite the plethora of legislative entities, real power lies with the European Council, which is basically answerable to no one. The EU, therefore, despite its pretences, is a profoundly anti-democratic body with few checks and balances on the enormous power it wields.
As the EU has grown larger and its leaders more arrogant, a torrent of legislation and regulations have poured out of its headquarters in Brussels. These have not always been well received, though regulation is certainly part of the EU mandate. Theoretically, the EU is responsible for creating an ever more perfect single market by abolishing passports and ensuring efficient movement of people, goods and capital throughout the EU. The EU also has its own central bank, the ECB, and its own currency, the euro. It maintains permanent diplomatic missions and is represented at the UN. It has military ambitions, as well.
All of this illustrates amply that the EU fully intends to become a United States of Europe despite the long and ancient tradition of its member states, which, unlike the colonies, are cohesive tribal cultures that go back thousands of years. The parallels between the US, a political entity that has been around 200 years, and Europe, which has been settled for some 10,000 years, are minimal at best.
The more the EU bestrides Europe by trickery and legislative sleight-of-hand, the more it is likely resented by those it seeks to dominate. Initially, the EU was nothing more than a trading zone. Had its membership known that they were participating in the raising of an empire with 500 million inhabitants, chances are the EU would never have generated the level of cooperation necessary to survive, let alone thrive.
The bait-and-switch at the heart of the EU means, however, that an increasing number of EU "citizens" do not see it as a legitimate entity. This meant little during the good times, but now that the EU is reeling from its sovereign debt crisis and "austerity" sacrifices are called for, there is a good deal of question over how much pushback the EU will generate as it seeks to extend its tentacles, even further consolidating Europe's nation states.
The Irish, Greeks and Portuguese have illustrated significant unhappiness with the austerity programs to which they are now subject. There is doubtless more economic austerity to come and the euro itself, without a formalized political union, is not a viable monetary entity. The EU is attempting to address this issue by moving aggressively ahead with a political union to complement its economic one – whether Europe's citizens really want it or not.
To say all is not well with the EU is an understatement. Various countries and populations have indicated clearly that they are dissatisfied with the additional accumulations of power by the EU. Where voters object, however, EU leaders change the rules so referenda don't count, only parliamentary procedures. When parliaments object, the EU tries to dictate by fiat.
It is indeed questionable whether an entity such as the EU, which has come to power via misdirection and misrepresentation, can be said to have the legitimate endorsement of its member states. If it does not, then efforts at further centralization will meet with yet more resistance and perhaps outright violence. Whether centralizing forces or decentralizing ones prevail is not yet clear. The EU is at a critical juncture.
News & Analysis
|05/21/13||Can Europe Go Back?|
|05/15/13||Serious UK Difficulties Ahead as Cameron Struggles with EU Withdrawal|
|05/14/13||Correct, Mayor Johnson, the Real Problem is Not the EU|
|04/09/13||Cypriot Chaos Assists EU Centralization|
|03/22/13||Cyprus Lifts the Curtain|
|03/08/13||Dancing Into the Abyss, Against All Reason|
|05/08/13||A Flawed Message|
|10/31/12||David Cameron Is Piggy-in-the-Middle|
|10/24/12||Nobel Selects EU ... World Snorts?|