This is an interesting article to read, if you have the time, because it is quite long. However, as is usual with Bill’s blogs, it is full of history & facts to support his premise.
What really captured my attention, was a comment made by James Schipper.
I am hoping that James will not mind that I repeat his contribution here. Bill states on all of his blogs,”spread the word”. I am, therefore, assuming that anyone who contributes their comments on his blog, also subscribes to this sentiment.
If the European project is dead, then that is at least one thing to cheer about. European unity was a silly idea from the beginning. All claims made for the beneficence of the EU and its predecessors are false. First, the notion that the EU preserved peace is laughable. There was no real peace in Europe between 1948 and 1988, but there was a cold war. Europe was divided into 2 hostile blocs. If that cold war had become hot, it would have been the most destructive and murderous war in European history. Fortunately, it didn’t become hot, but the credit for that should go the decision-makers in Washington and Moscow, not to the centralizers in Brussels.
It is totally unbelievable that it was de Gaulle and Adenauer who kept the peace between West Germany and France. War between them was no more possible than war between East Germany and Poland. The latter would have been stopped by the Soviet Union, and the former was made impossible by the Americans. Does anyone really believe that the Americans would have allowed a war between West Germany and France? It is true that harmony between Germany and France is a precondition for peace in Western Europe, but to attain such harmony there is no need for an EU, at the most for a Franco-German confederation.
Real friendship requires trust. Well, the French were opposed to German reunification. They pursued the traditional French line that Germany has to be kept weak and divided. That tells you all you need to know about how real the “friendship” between France and Germany was in 1989. Suppose that we have 2 neighbors who have come to blows several times. Now they decide to bury the axe, and to make sure that they will remain friends, they plan to get married. Is that a good idea? I don’t think so, but that was roughly the idea that the EU builders had.
If you put small nations together with large ones in the same political entity, then the small ones will still be small and can be outvoted. Just ask the Scots, who are part of the same polity as the English. The Scots may prefer Labor, but if the English prefer the Conservatives, then that is what the Scots will get, and have been getting. Political unification can only be successful if there is prior national unification. There is no European nation. A Dane who finds himself in Greece, Portugal, Slovakia or Hungary is among foreigners, even though they all have a EU passport. We should have learned by now that common citizenship is not sufficient to create a common nationality. The headquarters of the EU is in Brussels, a country created in 1830, but that is still as divided between the Flemish and Walloons as ever. There is a country called Belgium, but there is no Belgian nation.
Er is een Belgische koning.
Er is ook veel Belgische vertoning.
Er is een Belgische vlag en een Belgisch lied.
Maar Belgen, nee, die zijn er niet.
There is a Belgian king.
There is also a lot of Belgian ceremony.
There is a Belgian flag and a Belgian hymn.
But Belgians, no, they do not exist.
Quite right, there are no Belgians in the national sense, just in the political sense. Likewise, there are no Europeans, except in a geographic and political sense.
Second, the claim that the EU made Europeans more prosperous is false. True, Europeans are much more prosperous today then in 1945, but a lot of people outside of Europe have also seen rising prosperity since WWII. Inside Europe, countries that didn’t join the EU also prospered. Countries that joined much later haven’t done worse than those that joined right at the beginning. Prosperity doesn’t require transfer of sovereignty to a supranational entity like the EU.
Third, the argument that the EU was an instrument for democratization is unconvincing. Granted, there are far more democracies in Europe now then there were in 1950, but we should get the causal direction right. Countries didn’t become democracies after they joined the EU, but they could join the EU after they had already become democratic. If Eastern Europe is democratic today, then we should thank Gorbachev, not the EU.
In conclusion, it wasn’t the EU that brought peace, prosperity and democracy to Europe, and it certainly wasn’t the euro. The EU may be a fixation of the European elite, but it doesn’t live in the hearts of ordinary Europeans. If I were European, I would like to see both the EU and the euro disappear.
I totally agree with all of your sentiments. It is not often that you read such distilled sense.
To buck the current trend, I note that you do not single out a single country that has caused all the problems. This is a disingenuous ploy being spread around that clouds the difficult-to-accept truth. Sure, some countries have benefited from the EU & EMU and some have not. However, the citizens can hardly be blamed for the failed experiment. As things stand now, we are closer to confrontation between European nations than ever before since WW2. So much for the European Dream!
I regard myself as a European, if only by residence, and I would also like to see both the EU and the euro disappear.”