Monday, 14 May 2012
A true union of peoples? (Part 3)
What ideas follow from can be drawn from the reflections on Europe from the inside?
Firstly, it’s clear that there’s no “silver bullet” which can create a true union of peoples and that it can’t be done quickly. It’s much easier to identify what wouldn’t be possible, such as the fact that, in the 21st century Europe can’t, like Italy and Germany in the 19th century, be brought closer together by conquest and war.
Secondly, even if, as some have argued, Europe is not directly threatened by militarily, it is not in Europe’s interests to allow itself to be a battleground for economic rivalry, where EU Member States are excessively influenced in their attitude to other countries by considerations of FDI or energy security (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3b2668e8-7e95-11dd-b1af-000077b07658.html#axzz1tbunRLnz).
Thirdly, the solution does not lie in artificial localism and regionalism and in judicial processes such as the European Arrest Warrant and the European Investigation Order based on insufficient standards of legal protection and applied to crimes other than terrorism (physical or cyber) and people trafficking.
Fourthly, Europe needs to concentrate on what “what works” ie continuing to remove the remaining barriers to trade in goods and services, continuing to address anti competitive practices, and practical benefits for citizens and businesses such as a common European patent, further downward pressure on mobile roaming charges, common procedures for business start-up and electronic interoperability.
It looks likely at present that Europe in the end will become a different kind of construct that the nation state model common to its major international peers. How quickly and when is unclear. But in the short and medium term the priorities need to be based preserving the essentials - internal trade and defence against external threat and promoting inter-personal contact, amongst which mutual employment secondments can form a key part.
I'm of course conscious that the Eurozone faces another immediate crisis in the coming week following the inconclusive results of the Greek elections. Others have commented on it extensively, such as Roger Bootle (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/rogerbootle/9263156/The-final-death-throes-of-the-euro.html) and Robert Peston (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18058270).
But we have to assume that the tragedy of the Eurozone will resolve itself by restructuring as soon as possible and allow for the start of the slow and painful road to rebuilding the credibility of EU decision making after the damage done by the way the Euro was created and managed and the denial of reality which has been a characteristic of the past two years.
Hence the importance of looking forward.
Posted by Mike Burnett at 21:41