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An EU in hysterical crisis
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-02-19 09:36:32
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The dates for the next Euro-elections are getting closer and all the parties all around Europe are getting ready for the battle but what sort of battle is that when nobody is talking about Europe but only about their internal problems. As usual, they blame Brussels for their financial problems and this really baffles me - I’m afraid I’m not the only one who feels the same on this continent who feels that this election is only in the title European and another expense in the overloaded national budgets.

It is a common secret that the European Union is under a serious crisis and the election of Barack Obama in the US presidency has made this crisis deeper, whether we like to admit it or not. Europe as a union failed to defend the European unity in front of George W. Bush’s administration, their manipulating and bullying methods are not going to change with the election of Barack Obama because it has nothing to do with the US policy but with the European attitude to this unity itself. Barack Obama wasn’t elected to help or work for EU but he was elected from the American people to work for the American people and take care of their interests, period! If anybody believes anything else, then they live in a hallucination.

America’s interests are often in conflict with European interests especially the financial interests, period again! The two biggest economic powers are in constant financial conflict and race which differences from other similar conflicts that there are rules but it is still a conflict and the two powers are competitors despite all the petty political games and local geopolitical interests. However, half of the European states live in the past dreaming their old glories and the other half believe the myths they created themselves about the west and the riches of uncontrolled capitalism.

The financial crisis that started in USA and it started exactly because there is no control in way the banks work is going to hit Europe harder than anything over the last three decades and that is inexcusable - a failure of the European Union as it is. The banks and the financial system in Europe and the majority of the European states is state-controlled and under strict rules and regulations, so why did it fail? For the simple reason that even the leaders and the people who run this union never really believed in the European Union. They saw it as an extension of their national often very local interests. And that’s what the Euro-elections represent, a chance for the governing parties to measure their strength and influence and that includes even the euro-sceptics parties like the ones in UK and Italy that they are nothing else than nationalistic parties who found the back door to influence national politics.

The European Union has lost any sense of identity far before its citizens realize that they have an identity and the possibility of the French President’s suggestion for Tony Blair to become the president of EU is the proof of the failure and that for the European leaders the whole thing is just a joke and a really bad one! But let’s return to the voters and this euro-election. First of all most of the European citizens don’t care that’s why the ridiculously low turn-out, if they do turn out it is because the national elections are not far and they want to demonstrate their disappointment or approval and of course the national parties focus on national issues ignoring the European reality or manipulating the people they turn their European talk into subjects that can connect with local interests, for example, immigration, economics and new EU legislations blaming EU bureaucracy for everything like they are not members of the union and part of the decision body.

The candidates are the comedy or drama depends how you see it, usually they belong to three categories, the ones who see Euro-election as the first step or test before national election, the ones who have failed nationally but they are still useful for the party so they go to Brussels and EU works like a laundry – here we have plenty of examples with Barroso, Solana, Rhen the brightest – and finally the ones who the parties wants to keep them a bit away because they are trouble makers or as an exchange of favours something like the ambassadors who are not diplomats but generous funders of the party! And of course there are exceptions, but they are nothing more than the exceptions that prove the rule.

Last, the European citizens, what do they think, they think that the European Union is a hydrocephalus bureaucratic monster lost in a labyrinth of regulations and legislations meaningless most of time which follows USA like a dog without giving a damn what the people want. Why euro-sceptic parties thrive in Europe? Because that’s the only way for the people to show their frustration and disappointment, does anybody get the message? Of course not, the only thing that bothers them is their reputation and their personal future. Amazingly when the Irish demonstrated this disappointment the European leaders wanted to punish them, that’s how they understand democracy. And how people react? With a ‘no’ first in France and Nederland and then in Ireland and if the governments dared put the decisions in referendums and not cowardly push them through the parliaments then the ‘no’ would have been millions. Perhaps the riots in Paris and Athens have a message as well but that’s another case all together.

But let’s return to the EU and its never found identity; common foreign policy? Please don’t go far, just remember Iraq. What about common financial policy? Feel mercy we are still wondering why do we have to pay the failures of the AIG directors! Common education? We have reached the bottom with 27 different failed systems. Common agriculture policy? What agriculture? EU security forces? You must be joking; we need to support the dead and unexcused for existence NATO, how the hell the American weapons industry will sell more weapons if we don’t support NATO? After all, F16s obviously make better diplomacy than the euro-fighter!

Oh yes, there are other issues as well, some of the countries worry for the money they give while most worry for the money they get. In the last expansion Poland blackmailed the whole union for more money …why? Because the advances of Poland joining were so critical for the future of the union? A Poland that was not ready not only to join EU but not ready to join any body deep in corruption and political extremism. And why all the rush to welcome Turkey? Because it is a state example of democracy? Because despite all the agreement for common defence Turkey occupies part of a full member which apparently doesn’t recognize despite the fact that this member has a vote which Turkey wants and threatens with a war another one?

And then we are wondering for the rise of euro-sceptics? If that’s the Europe you are dreaming, no thank you, you can keep it and please don’t count on me. You don’t need me? Have you ever thought if I need you? You see nothing could be more current to what J. F. Kennedy has said a bit changed, is about time for the Europeans to think not what they are doing for Europe but what Europe is doing for them and to them!

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Emanuel Paparella2009-02-19 13:41:00
Indeed Thanos, it was one of the founding fathers of the European Union, Jean Monet who said “if I could start over, I would start with culture,” and he said a mouthful, for he had understood, perhaps a bit belatedly, that without a strong cultural identity what you are left with is an economic union of banks and soccer games as a unifying culture of sort. The cart was put before the horse and the result was that a Constitution was drafted with no unifying vision which did not fool the people who voted against it. So they called it what it was an economic treaty and the people are still starving for a unifying cultural vision and in no mood to accept empty symbols.

There was another founding father Robert Schumann who said: “I never feel more European as when I enter a cathedral” and he had it more on target. Then there is Jefferson who said: “people who give up their freedom for economic advantage eventually end up losing both.” Food for thought there.

AP2009-02-19 16:51:41
Forgive my hallucination, but I really believe that Europe doesn't have to be in constant and fierce competition with the U.S., economic or other. If the only way of affirming European identity is by opposition to the U.S., then we've reached the bottom. Obama wasn't elected to work for the EU, but his administration can work WITH the EU if we are clever enough - even if that does mean getting rid of many of our current leaders, which would in fact be a blessing.
Let's just not substitute Cold War by a US-EU War, first of all because that's not the way many millions think inside Europe, second because we're not Russia.

AP2009-02-19 16:53:49
(thank God or Buddha for that)

AP2009-02-19 17:05:19
Also, Mr. Paparella, it depends what you mean with "unifying cultural vision". If Europe's "unified vision" means accepting and tolerating crimes like the ones in Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy, Germany, Finland or even Northern Ireland against foreigners, xenophobic ideologies and discrimination policies - then no, we'll never have a "unified vision"!! AND many of us will feel much closer to the US's recently expressed tolerance than to any of these shameless acts or the hypocrisy of our politicians.

Clint2009-02-19 20:57:43
That's it Thanos I was sitting here quietly and you had to mention Europe. Here in the UK we don't blame the EU for the financial crisis - we blame them for everything else but not the economic situation we blame 'Our Gordon' for that and he'll get a bloody nose at the Euro Elections here as a fore-runner to next year. How long ago Europe did I warn you Blair is on his way and Ireland forced to vote again - love it, love it, love it!

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