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Will Europeans finally make a decision on their own future? Will Europeans finally make a decision on their own future?
by Christos Mouzeviris
2016-08-01 10:56:00
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For the past seven years Europe has found itself in an ever deepening predicament.

In the beginning was the euro-zone crisis, which threatened to break Europe's single currency.
 
Then the refugee crisis threatened the Schengen Agreement and the very unity of the EU's member states.
 
The crises in Ukraine and the Middle East have also tested Europe's ability to lead, offer solutions or decisively respond to potential threats.
 
eur01_400_01Finally, after years of struggling to deal with the rising Euro-skepticism and the numerous far-Right movements across the continent, the EU is losing one of its oldest members; the UK has finally voted to leave the union.
 
It seems that Europeans have lost faith and trust not only in the European project, but their own governments too. Sadly, they seem to want to destroy their biggest collective achievement; the creation of a stable financially, socially and politically continent for the past six decades.
 
 The only country that still puts effort in the European project is Germany, naturally to safeguard and promote mainly its own interests. 
 
It is currently the only European country who shows leadership and ambition, when dealing with any of the crises. 
 
The rest of EU member states, still live in a post war, post communist era, nation centric and conservative reality.

But the world is changing and will be very different in the next decades. The harsh reality is that we either all adapt or fail. 
 
The Brits decided that they are out, the French show weak determination to lead, the Southern states are too absorbed in their own corruption, the BeNeLux and the Scandinavian countries show little resistance to the German hegemony, while the Eastern European nations seem to be in it just for the money. 
 
They have little vision for Europe's future and they do not embrace totally the West's ambitions. This is evident from how easily they turned the page, once they were faced with the refugee crisis. Even the very EU enthusiastic Poland turned Euro-skeptic, voting in a government that reflects their new approach to migration.

One would naturally put all the blame in the corrupt and decadent national governments of Europe. They do not present the reality and how the EU works to the citizens, in order to safeguard their own political ambitions and the interests of national elites.

As result, the EU is often used as a scapegoat by them, while the citizens have a very distorted view on how things work on European level. Most politicians continue to use EU membership as a platform to promote not necessarily their voters' interests, rather their own agenda.

We haven't seen many national heads of government, openly speaking for the EU and its role in modern Europe. There has been little praise by any European prime minister or a member of his cabinet, of the importance and achievements of the EU.

Most of them prefer to stick to populism and feed national agendas, maintaining the focus of their citizens on national issues.

Yet they now seem to fear the growing German hegemony over the continent. They could of course compete with Germany for leadership, by actively showing involvement, interest and ambition in the European project, instead of blaming the Germans of "taking over". 
 
Understandably Germany's leadership comes with good and bad effects for the rest of Europe. Naturally they promote their own interests first then the continent's. But until other European states get seriously involved, raise their voice to counterpart that of Germany's, then they should not complain. 
 
The Germans are the only ones who try to bring the continent into the next phase of the global reality. Which will be a multi-polar, ruthless and competitive world.

The problem is that Germany is building up its economy to the detriment of the other surrounding, weaker countries.

That is not a reason for them to want to leave the EU, or hate and fear Germany altogether. European nations of the periphery should unite and place this pressure on the EU institutions to stop Germany from dominating and start sharing and cooperating. Or at least limit its force and dominance.

If they remain disengaged and divided, they can have no expectations from Germany to "save" them or take their needs into consideration, while trying to keep Europe as a relevant player on the new global reality.

Our continent at the moment is in dire need of leadership and unity, that only Germany is seeming to be keen on. All European national governments must be forced by us, the citizens, to get vocal on Europe and engage fully with the European project, integrating further our countries with each other.

Further integration is either we like it or not, the safest bet in securing our continent's wealth and stability in the future.

Alternatively European economies and societies risk being broken up and becoming even less competitive. Going back to individual states, could mean that only few will survive the impending global competition. Not all European countries have the resources or capability to stay relevant.

While being independent and making your own decisions seem more appealing on every country's electorate, we seem to ignore that the world is changing. Europe is not the center of the globe anymore and in the future, it will become inevitably less dominant.

So what will it be; isolationist, protectionist, conservative and nation centric mentality and policies, or should Europe be preparing for a more integrated and globalized world. Can nationalism save us, our way of living and our societies?

Let us not be fooling ourselves anymore,postponing important decisions that can guarantee our future generations' prosperity. We need to make up our minds and take responsibility for our own decisions. Blaming the EU or our governments is easier but in the end, we vote for our own leaders and we still have a voice and power.

Change is always scary but as it is inevitable, it is preferable to get engaged and contribute to our countries' and societies' evolution and reformation, rather becoming an obstacle. Will Europe look better in the future as a divided continent, with ever competing small states for the little resources we have left?

Or will it look better as a community of integrated, but sovereign nations that share resources while promoting prosperity and stability for every one in the continent? We should be striving to create an equal continent, of equal nations, comprised of equal societies and equal individuals. And that has never been achieved by nationalism and populism.

    
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Emanuel Paparella2016-08-01 13:53:00
The above article attempts an analysis of what ails present day EU: being in just for the money, or the power, naturally promoting one’s interests first especially by Germany, (that adjective “naturally” is instructive…as if saying with Ayn Rand that selfishness is a natural state of affairs…), desire to dominate by the more prosperous member countries, especially Germany, the promotion of fortress Europe that keeps the undesirables out, resistance to change, especially globalization, resistance to the sharing of resources, equality, adaptation, and so on. What comes through is a rather bleak and desperate scenario: a EU at war with itself, wallowing in disunity, where the center does not hold, a Machiavellian political entity whose highest considerations seem to be geo-political realities, and of course, the chimera of prosperity, never mind that half of the world’s population is living in dire poverty.

The question arises: is the diagnosis by itself enough to bring about a solution, what the US Constitution calls “a more perfect union”? The original ideals of a united Europe are hinted at in the article but nowhere spelled out (they are unequivocally spelled out actually in the original foundational documents of the EU founding fathers which precious few seem to have read and reflected upon), but then more globalization is advocated as the ultimate solution. This is what Europeans are called to adapt to. But what is the reality of Globalization? Globalization, on both sides of the Atlantic has only brought about more income inequality and the economic stagnation, for the last thirty years or so, beginning with Regan and Tatcher, of the middle class. That class is admittedly frustrated and discontented, but then the reaction of populism is found undesirable. But populism and fascism and nationalism and xenophobia too are the ugly reactions to economic injustice as the rise of a Trump or a Le Pen more than confirm.

So what is to be done; what might a more cogent solution possibly be for a dire situation as described in the above article? A modest proposal: how about exploring in greater depth the genuine cultural identity of the continent. What are the essential elements that make us all Europeans beyond, power play, prosperity, geo-political considerations, ethnic-national loyalties, soccer games, reality-shows and circuses galore? Something that may well allow for the center to hold? To be sure, there are brilliant examples for this; one that jumps to mind is Christopher Dawson’s The Making of Europe, which I dare say, precious few Europeanists have read and pondered. And there are many others.

Once we know what that cultural glue is and debate it thoroughly, it may perhaps keep us together, or at the very least takes us on the right road to “a more perfect union,” and we may perhaps hope to overcome the powerful centrifugal forces at play as we speak. Analysis is fine, but it is only a first step to a correct prognosis which is essential to restore health and sanity, as any doctor can confirm. As I said, a mere modest proposal, perhaps a mere speaking in the wind in the desolate intellectual desert, in the brave new world of global realities in which we live and have our being, by a man who has only a pen as a weapon. Personally, even after ten years of speaking into the wind in the pages of Ovi magazine, hoping for a dialogue on this issue, with few precious responses or mere negative responses, the conspiracy of hope is not dead, for indeed loss of hope is death itself. That can of course be cathartic in itself, in the psychological sense (‘get it off your chest” as the caption on top of the Ovi comment section proclaims) but there is a more important more philosophical-ethical consideration: for evil to triumph in the world, all that is needed is for good men to simply observe and do nothing; it is for good men to keep their mouth shut, refuse a fruitful dialogue or debate, and pretend that all is well with the world. Eventually, they may find out that all is not so well with the world, albeit it may be well with them personally now, when the calamity hits close at home. The wiser route is to make a better more humane world for everybody concerned, and that literally means everybody. The rich and privileged living in a bubble may sooner than later find out that the world they have been working for will become an uncomfortable one for them too. History will eventually have the final say.


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