Europe at a tipping point.
Two realities are confronting each other in Europe.
The first reality is the benefit of turning the faltering continental bloc of 27 nations into a federal state – one nation, one strategy, one economy, and one sovereignty with a population of around 500 million. It would have enormous educational and economic resources and a cultural history to conjure with. Europe27 could have the heft, motivation and focus to deal with the current threat from ill-managed outlier member states. It could make a plan, it could get a result. The push for this Federal reality is led today by France and Germany.. A proposal has been tabled by the Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen, a long term member of Angela Merkel’s cabinet. It suggests more than 1 trillion Euro’s of grants and loans to become the glue for a future continental federation that would realize the dreams of Jean Monnet, the thought leader of the 1940’s.
The second reality however is no less strong and meaningful. Each of the current member states came to the table with different strengths and weaknesses. Each has managed their economies in differing ways and with different results. Each managed as they saw fit, with the support of their people. and they succeeded. Today a nation like the Netherlands is led by a sober, strong, and strategically accomplished Prime Minister contemplating the likelihood of a fourth term in democratically elected office. The Dutch “polder model” of governance is based on consensus and pragmatic economics and it has worked. Netherlands gdp per capita at $55K (US $67K) attests to its success. It is well ahead of most southern member states (Italy $34K; Spain $32K) and those in the east (Hungary $19K; Poland $17K or Bulgaria $10K). Why should the hard working people of the Netherlands and their neighbors in the North West (Denmark $62K; Sweden $57K, Austria $53K) so readily underwrite the apparently casual shiftlessness of their weaker neighbors? Are they now to bail out peoples and systems in whom they have little confidence?
The federalist strategy is essential – Merkel is right, without it Europe will fragment, the weakest economies will collapse. Already much of the politics is stepping back into the egregious world of populist despotism – what is alarmingly looking like a Trump club of social collapse. But federalism will get short shrift from all sides today.
The conundrum is a real one. US insularity and vulgarity offers no help. The European Union is at a tipping point and is likely to fail.
Have a good day, James.