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The European dream and power plays The European dream and power plays
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-05-11 08:49:40
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The last few years when we talk about the European Union often we confuse the reality with the dream. The dream and the aim of the 27 states that constitute the Union today and the others that want to be members is one confederation that includes all the European states with common internal, economic, defence and foreign policy. Internal includes education, culture, health, justice and all the policies that constitute a modern and active democracy. This was the dream of the EU founders theoretically this is the target of the EU leadership and this is what they work for. But this is the theory.

In practice there are 27 states and some change (wanting to be full members including Serbia and Turkey) with 27 different agendas, with 27 different geopolitical plans, 27 different alliances and interests that cover form defence to agriculture. 27 states and some change with the same aim and different ways to get there however close sometimes they seem to be. More importantly there are 27 different power plays and in that add the personal agendas and power games the leaders play. This is the reality of Europe today and this is what has brought the Union into a deadlock.

In Europe there was always this very thick line between the industrial north and the agricultural south. In the 19th century with the industrialization of the world made also the north wealthy and the south poor. This is one of the things the founders of EU wanted to balance, seen the necessity of a union that can profited more if all resources are used for the general good equally. Unfortunately this changed sometime in 1970s when for the European leadership industry became an end in itself and what identifies the Union and agriculture and whatever else could the south offers an obligatory necessity that the north had often to support instead of share.

Old competitions and technical evolution quickly expanded and the power play was not limited anymore to the main players but everybody wanted a share in the north while the undermined south found more and more reasons to unite and strengthen its position creating instead of two poles two new opposite champions. The Germans and the French and behind them a series of states satellites or supporters with their own agendas occasionally not loyal to their place in the power game. This balance broke after the fall of the wall, Germany felt big enough and confident to stand alone and instead of leading to rule with the power of her industry (combining west and east) and a strong currency forgetting that nothing would have been real without the active support of the all the union.

Chancellor Merkel and her financial advisors often and intentionally forget that the unification could have caused the German bankruptcy if the European partners hadn’t support the mark in its unification with the East German mark and in extent with the under collapse east German economy not only by giving plenty of time and free movement but also using the German mark instead of the dollar or the pound in many of their international commercial exchanges. Actually in that case the poor partners from the south proved the best allies. But there is a saying, nobody more ungrateful than the beneficiary. And the old gap between north and south became deeper with the economic crisis. That the south was so dramatically hit by the recession and the debt does not mean that the north is free of the problem it was just that the south is weaker and without the political power the industrial and banking support give.

You see all leads to the same way, the European Union came out of a necessity to protect and help the European citizens but the decisions that created the Union were not decisions made out of this necessity but political foreseeing that the necessity will come one day. The decisions that weekend economically the south and invested intro the industrial north were not made by force but they were political serving contemporary interests; wrong or right doesn’t matter, what matters is to understand that they were always political decisions. That the north trying to protect its vested interests left the south alone in the financial crisis knowing that the south has not the right economic background to defend itself it was again a political decision. The future of the European Union is based on political decisions.

The new French president Hollande during his campaign has pointed exactly that but this is not about Hollande. Hollande was voted because he said what the people wanted to say, he was just a carrier of a message that the European Union has now to receive and understand and Hollande is not the first to carry this message. Few years ago the European leadership intentionally didn’t read the Irish message and the same day with the election of the French president the Greek people send a shocking message going as far as to put neo-Nazis into the Greek parliament with one and only motive, to protest!

Power plays there are and there will always be as long this globe is shared in states, confederations and unions with different agendas and interests. The European union had the dream to do the first step into a confederation beyond those agendas and interests for the good of the European people and the European people fully support that and want it, you just need to check all the surveys in every single European state and see how much they approve and support the union to understand that their protests have nothing to do with the dream but with the play!



      
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Emanuel Paparella2012-05-11 22:15:10
Indeed Thanos, you have it right on target: the people’s protest has nothing to do with the dream but with the play! The way the play is staged by the EU’s myopic visionless politicians could go wrong. As you aptly point point out, the fact that proto-Nazis are now sitting in various congress of the EU’s nations is ominous of great disasters to come which may make the Holocaust of the Nazis look like a picnic. Here in the US we now have extremists (some in the Tea Party) who consider Hitler a moderate of sort between two extremes. If Hitler is a moderate, I shudder at the thought of what a real extremist will be capable of. There is a novel by Sinclair Lewis titled “They Say it Could not Happen Here” which is quite prophetic in this regard. I am afraid that this phenomenon of extremism, which always thrives in times of economic and social turmoil, needs to be examined a bit more closely. It is the symptom of the fact that the center does not hold and the danger of the loss of democracy and freedom in our Western civilization is quite real. I hope I am wrong.


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