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Post EU, Nationalism, Separatism: Response to Eugenio Battaglia
Created by John Eipper on 12/09/19 3:32 AM

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EU, Nationalism, Separatism: Response to Eugenio Battaglia (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 12/09/19 3:32 am)

Eugenio Battaglia (December 6th) once again severely criticized NATO and the European Union. This is nothing new, as several other WAIS colleagues have expressed an inexplicable feeling of disgust and hatred against the EU.

I hope not to get into another controversy with Eugenio on this topic, but I am forced to question a couple of his statements.

First, Eugenio says that the EU is a "natural failure, because no new country was ever born out of the peaceful, voluntary union of various nations." Maybe Eugenio is historically correct; however it is incorrect and naïve, or at least a conceptual mistake, to consider the EU an attempt to create a new "country." No such definition was ever the intention of the EU and I doubt this is ever going to be possible, unless a new wave of an unlikely European nationalism shows up on the continent. Perhaps it would be useful for Eugenio to review the history of the EU's creation to understand better its original purpose and achievements.

Eugenio also criticized the EU "goodists." I consider myself a radical member of this group. He cited the "push toward division" of Catalunya, Scotland and the Balkans as examples of the EU's failure. Please Eugenio, correct me if I am wrong, but the examples you quoted are somehow misinterpreted.  Catalonian independentism does not seek separation from the EU, nor does Scotland. On the contrary in the last case many favor independence because they still find it necessary and useful to remain in the EU. I am not sure about the Balkans case, Croatia or Serbia, but I doubt their desire is to leave the EU.

Eugenio seems to be an extreme Euro skeptic, as much as Salvini and his Italian populist-nationalistic party, but I am pretty sure (at least is what I would like to think) that most of the Italian population still considers it a privilege to remain in the EU.

JE comments:  Croatia "just" joined the EU (in 2013), and Serbia is still at the candidacy stage.  What Brussels insider can update us on where this process stands?  It is telling that no new EU members have been admitted since the Brexit negotiations began in 2016.

José Ignacio Soler is correct that no separatist/nationalist movement in Europe seeks to go it alone outside the EU.  Catalonian nationalists, for example, take it for granted that their new state would gain EU membership.

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  • An Alternative to an Ever-Expanding EU? The Delors Plan (Angel Vinas, Belgium 12/09/19 2:45 PM)

    I'm very busy working on an expanded version of my latest book. However, I cannot let pass without commenting José Ignacio Soler's post on the EU in response to Eugenio Battaglia (9 December). I haste to add that I fully share José Ignacio's views.

    The EU was born out of the ashes of World War II and the fears of a possible WWIII. It grew under the umbrella of NATO and, a European Defense Community having been rejected by the French National Assembly, it started on the economic side. The interpenetration of national economies, particularly in those war-enabling sectors such as coal and steel, would make another war unthinkable on the Western part of the European continent. Its speed and innovative capacity defied all expectations. The economic growth of Western Europe since the 1960s is unthinkable without the EU and the will of Member States to jointly exercise sovereignty in ever-expanding areas.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union the neutrals and the former Warsaw Pact members were very happy to join. The enlargement was a great success for the UK which wanted to dilute the trend towards ever more sharing of national sovereignties. This created new challenges and opportunities, particularly with an expanding single European market (energetically pushed forward by the Brits). The dilemmas between enlargement and internal strengthening of the EU were never solved. As soon as the international economy started floundering, old national rivalries emerged.

    There was never the slightest intention of creating a super State, even less a new nation. The undefined idea was to aspire to "an ever closer Union."

    The enlargement dreams turned sour. The former Communist countries had nationalistic-minded parties that were not keen on sharing wider parcels of sovereignty. I haven't forgotten the Czech case. The Hungarian and Polish cases came later on.

    I gave a course on the economic, political and security developments of the EU until I retired from University in 2011. I always thought that Jacques Delors´ strategy of creating a wide economic area in Europe without the former Communist States becoming integrated into the EU institutions might have been more intelligent.

    Now we have created a dynamic process in which the requests for admission are ever increasing, perhaps with good reasons. But some Member States have become wary of further enlargements (France at the fore). Once bitten...

    JE comments:  So nice to hear from you and Happy Holidays, Ángel!  When time permits, could you give us a deeper overview of the Delors plan?  Wouldn't a (permanent?) exclusion of the former East Bloc nations from the EU have ensured the perpetuation of the old Iron Curtain?

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  • A United States of Europe? Not a New Idea (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 12/11/19 3:38 AM)

    I wish to thank José Ignacio Soler for his kind and well-informed, if
    strongly worded essay of 9 December.

    First of all, I am convinced we both believe in the dream of a European Union.  The difference between us is that José Ignacio believes in the chances
    of the present EU while I consider the constitution of the present EU to be
    completely wrong.

    Our differences remind me of the diatribe in Europe starting in
    April 1929 when Asvero Gavelli began publishing the magazine Antieuropa
    (Against Europe) through 1943. The name of the magazine seems contrary to
    a European Union.  It was actually pro-Union, but...

    We may say that the dream of a United Europe is more than one thousand
    years old, but in modern times Giuseppe Mazzini on 15 April 1834 founded
    the Giovine Europe (Young Europe). The first members of this association
    were delegates from Poland, Germany and Italy (all not yet unified or
    existing states) to create a federation of the various European peoples
    against the Europe of the Kings united by the Holy Alliance of 1815.  Giovine Europe was first of all a spiritual association with the
    respect of the peculiarities of each people and had nothing to do with the
    materialism of Marx. Unsurprisingly, Giovine Europe and its national divisions were
    strongly persecuted by the kings.

    Victor Hugo in 1849 proposed the United States of Europe. On 5 September
    1929 the French PM, the Masons and Nobel Laureate Aristid Briand also proposed
    a United States of Europe. Also Lenin, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Edward
    Herriot, Winston Churchill and the Italian antifascist Spinelli while at the
    "confino" proposed the same thing. Italians presently tend to believe that
    all the credit goes to Spinelli (sic).

    But all these proposals, even if theoretically fascinating, were not sound
    ideas, as is the case with the present EU.

    Asvero Gravelli wanted a European Union based on homogeneous nations with
    their traditions but without egotism, and already with the same political
    system based on authority, order and justice. Otherwise the Union cannot
    work; see Historica n° 3/2019.

    At present the EU has a huge amount of silly economic rules and a single
    monetary system, the euro. Unfortunately the euro is based on the
    quicksands of different welfare and taxation systems,
    financial reserves, costs of living, social measures, bureaucracies,
    abysmal differences in wages which lead to the monkey business of
    multinational firms going from one state to another to find the cheapest
    producers to get the maximum profit. Unless these differences are
    nullified, the Union cannot work. Apparently the differences are increasing.

    On top of this, the egotism (hidden racism) of the various leaders makes them
    fight each other, mostly along party lines, while they fill their speeches with sacred words such as union,
    democracy, integration, liberalism, rights, etc.

    Therefore a new "Antieuropa" is needed to reach a real united Europe with
    the principles of faith, discipline, sacrifice, justice and duty and
    without the present confusion of looking only towards individual rights and
    profits--which at the end means no rights and no profits for the majority.

    JE comments:  Weren't the Romans the first to seek a United Europe?  Eugenio Battaglia is correct, however, that such a vision has so far only been achieved through conquest.

    Did "Antieuropa" have a fascist agenda, with the "anti-" part referring to a World Order after liberal democracy?  By the way, when was the last time a political leader succeeded with a call for discipline (ouch) and sacrifice (double ouch)?  Kennedy (ask not what your country can do for you) gave us a tepid appeal for sacrifice, but I know of nobody in the last half-century.  Jimmy Carter modestly asked us to turn down our heat, and voters punished him for it.

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