Happy Troubled Birthday: Europe in different gears

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Text: Žikica Milošević

Now we have The Premier League, the Championship and thr First Division. If it sounds like a quick overview of English football, it is in fact the situation in the European Union these days. We are facing the cruel fact that there are three „leagues“ inside one entity which was initially conceived as rather monolythic, or at least it had the idea to become such. A home of equals, or at least a home for all those who will become equal after joining it. Of course there was a difference between Sweden and Portugal, Germany and Bulgaria, but now it is legalised.

A man wearing a t-shirt with the EU flag and the word Exit depicting the Euro sign during a demonstration for one year after the Greek referendum. Athens, July 5, 2016.
(Photo by Kostis Ntantamis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

CONVOY(S)

In analysing European Union these days, Miroslav Lazanski reminded us of the World War Two and the strategy of British convoys from Canada and the USA: convoy, namely, must travel by the speed of the slowest ship. Otherwise it is not a convoy if the faster ships go much ahead and leave the slower members behind. If the fastest go very much ahead, those of „middle speed“ go somewehere in between and the slowest go last, with significant gaps between them, well, these are… three convoys, not one. Siegmar Gabriel said that Germany had to understand that the German perspective is not the only one, and far away from accurate. Europe looks quite different if you look at it from some other country. Let us remind us of Brexit, and of course, it is a disaster for the European integration process. Still, Europe has its chance to bounce back. But it will not go by breaking its own rules, like refusing the principle of unisone voting for Donald Tusk, who was blocked by his home Poland. and yet, it happened, making just another crack in the European ship. In the end, the vote 27-1 was recorded as „legal“ and „majority of votes“, which is a clear case of majorisation. Of course, Poland might choose not to obbey to the decision it did not vote. And it is not a terribly good thing.

THE EUROPEAN DREAM

60 years ago, European Union was founded, and there was little doubt what would be the aim of such a union: stop future wars, animosities, promoting market, democracies, cut chauvinisms in their roots, etc. All noble causes. and of course, the „hard centre“ of it was among the strongest economies: France, Germany, Benelux, Italy. After De Gaulle stepped off, the UK joined. Another strong member. But in 1981 and 1985 there was a challenge: poor Southe European economies, Greece and then Spain and Portugal, with poor democratic traditions, just out of dictatorships, economically weak, joined the EU. And they were quickly turned into solid democracies with standards measurable to those of Italy , France or Germany. Later, in 1990, came yet another expansion: GDR. It became a part of Germany, and of course, Germans tried so hard to make them equal to the Western Germany. Who visited ex-GDR, can say that there is no difference, almost. In 1995, no problem, 3 rich Scandinavian countries. And then, in 2004, the „Big Bang“ with 10 Southern and Eastern members. Some of them did better, but some did it rather mediocre. And the „political“ expansion in 2007, with Romania and Bulgaria. And yet another one with Croatia in 2013. Well, it seemed too much for the EU to „equalise“ them all with, at least, Spain. And after the Economic Crisis from 2008, the South became vulnerable. 60% of Spanish solar power plants have closed down because of the lack of funding. The great ideas collapse one after another. The Greeks send the explosivce to Wolfgang Schäuble, angry for the fact that because of the austerity measures, they will not recover for many decades. And Germany was forgiven after the WWII, but it is not forgiving others now.

THE FAILED FEDERATIONS WARN US

A gentle reminder: when Yugoslavia and USSR fell apart, the difference between the richest and the poorest members was 6:1 or more (Slovenia- AP Kosovo, Baltic republics and Tajikistan). Now the difference between Luxembourg and Bulgaria is pretty much such. And when we noticed the terrible fact that the EU is repeating the deadly routine of failed federations, what is the solution? Helping the poorst to be less poor? No. It is just legalising that there are „few Europes“, few leagues. The richest will go further, you guys find your slow way. No need to say it will only make the gap bigger. Greece and Italy did not get anything from euro, it only depleted their economies. So they could, for the sake of their economies, switch to lira and drachma. Which is legitimate if Italy and Greece, together with Spain and Portugal, are in the „second league“. Not to mention the petition of Eastern members to cease the scandalous practice that the same brands have lower wuality in Czechia or Poland than in Germany or France. Stopping in help to develop, lower quality of products, lecturing. It is what expects the Second and the Third EU league. And if we get in some day, will we get in the Third League, where there are Romania and Bulgaria? Just sayin’.

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