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Post EU and Europe; Response to David Gress
Created by John Eipper on 03/04/13 6:05 AM

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EU and Europe; Response to David Gress (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 03/04/13 6:05 am)

Well, in response to David Gress (4 March), I must say that I'm aware, at least as much as David is, that the EU is not the equivalent of Europe. For one thing, Europe has existed for a couple of millennia, possibly more. The EU is a political and economic construct. As such, it is prone to failures and even defeat. It is not a bureaucratic construct. To assert this is mere populism.

The EU did not come out of nothingness. It came because of two pressing needs. The first one was to make war impossible again in Europe. This meant reconciliation and collaboration in a common endeavor. It started in the 1950s with relatively good results. Obviously, failures were also recorded, viz the stillborn European Defense Community. The second need was to strengthen the economic foundations of Western European societies, which were confronted at that time with an existential common enemy.

The UK, DK and others preferred to follow another way. No problem. They started EFTA. They pooled sovereignty to an almost zero extent until finally at least some of them saw the light in the early 1970s and joined. I wonder why.

I don´t worship the EU. In fact, I don´t worship anyone. I´m too much of a rationalist.

If David thinks that DK would be better off outside the EU, that´s fine with me. He'd have to be followed by his compatriots as well. Let me say again that the Lisbon Treaty provides for divorce. No member State is obliged to remain within the EU! DK and the UK are free to leave but, crucially, they wouldn´t be able to leave for free.

Let me point finally to one aspect that isn´t sufficiently discussed. The current crisis has shown that the emperor is without clothes. The Commission is less powerful than ever. Governments have taken over. The fragile equilibrium among the Institutions (Parliament, Commission, Council and European Council) has been distorted in favor of the two Councils. You change the national Governments, you change the Union. If not, and if the national Governments don't change track, the future will be cloudy indeed. This is particularly applicable to Germany, Sweden, Finland and Austria. I don´t mention the NL because they just started enjoying a new one. If, within the compact, they don´t agree to a more sensible common course, I wonder what they would do separately.

But here, amongst WAISers, please let's be able to conduct a discussion in rational terms.

JE comments: Divorces cost a lot of money; on the domestic micro-level, a divorce can turn one middle-class household into two impoverished ones. Do the Eurosceptics advocating divorce actually sit down with a balance sheet?

I've been reflecting more on the EU-Europe semantic distinction. Actually, I think David Gress has it backwards: Europe is the intellectual construct going back to Noah's son Japheth, while the EU, even if you loathe it, is real--an institution with laws, treaties, and people drawing a salary from it.

Next at bat:  Nigel Jones.

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  • EU and Europe; from Luciano Dondero (John Eipper, USA 03/04/13 12:55 PM)
    Luciano Dondero, our frequent Guest Contributor from Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, sends these thoughts on our "EU/Europe" discussion:

    About Europe, I'm afraid the one and only time when such a thing existed, and one could talk of a "European civilization," was when the common language was classical Latin.

    Was that a peaceful Europe? Well, let's see: within its borders, barring a civil war now and then, and the odd crazed Emperor once in a while, it was pretty much OK. On the outside, it conducted an almost continuous war of expansion. Very successful. Most of the good things we still use today (roads, aqueducts, baths) started at that time. And that also includes a number of cultural/trade things--many of which were lost during the Dark Ages (i.e., when the Church was a very powerful force for obscurantism and backwardness).

    Latin remained a key tool for facilitating a meeting of minds among intellectuals throughout the region, until out of it came a number of modern languages, which are still spoken by a very great number of people in the world (only Chinese and the Indian languages have more speakers).

    However, nobody ever managed to rebuild the Roman Empire, no matter how Holy they called it--and then came and an entirely new panorama.

    European countries, first as smallish kingdoms and fiefdoms, then as nation-states, spent most of the time at war among themselves, and with certain foreign powers (various Arabic kingdoms, the Ottoman empire), before starting the Conquest of the New World and the enslavement of Africa and then Asia.

    Gandhi, when they asked him about "Western (i.e. European) civilization," replied: "It would be a good idea."

    Perhaps his viewpoint was informed by events in South Africa and India, and thus not too keen on viewing Europe as oh so wonderful!

    Regarding the EU, clearly it's pretty messy--the 4 March post by Angel Viñas ("EU and Europe; Response to David Gress") seems almost obvious--however, Europe has been kept mostly at peace for the longest time ever since SPQR ruled the waves, and that's not something to be laughed at!

    In Italy, the party that got the largest single vote (M5S, Grillo's party) wants to abandon the Euro: that shows they don't have the faintest idea about anything real--imagine Italy with its own funny little Lira, we would be paying some millions of Lire just for a coffee if we had not joined the eurozone, and I don't think things would be much better elsewhere in Europe (Germany excepted, probably).

    Please also keep in mind that the EU has now absorbed a great chunk of the "buffer states" without too many problems (beside criminality).

    Quite viable this EU, it would seem; it's not really the shambles Eurosceptics make it out to be...

    JE comments:  It's been a long time since I last heard that Gandhi quote.  Priceless.

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