A crossroads for the European Union

By Rafael Sunday | Student of Political Science at the UNED

When Jean Monnet proposed, in 1950, an agreement (CECA) on the production and trade of coal and steel (basic raw materials for the war industry), it does so for a reason originally very human: to prevent violence and war, and return to ravage the territory of Europe. Cater to your desire six countries: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, these last three bringing their baggage of common experience in the economic integration reduced the Benelux.

The successful test of the ECSC prompted to the “fathers of europe” in his desire to expand the areas on which to set up a common market, to then walk towards a common currency and, as a distant horizon, to achieve an economic and political union of all european States which so wish.

After more than 60 years of arduous vicissitudes, we find ourselves with a European Union using a single currency, the euro, in 16 of its 27 members, and with several countries opting to form part of this select group. A group that represents an economic region of 500 million consumers and that is the primacy of world trade.

Certainly they have achieved important objectives. It has consolidated a situation in which the possibilities of military conflicts between the european States, once overcome the uncertainties balkan 90s of last century, are totally ruled out, reasonably. The economies have been matched, to a large extent, with regard to the imbalances initial, despite the fact that it has faced a process of expansion rather accelerated, especially after the entry of a significant number of countries (10 country hit in 2004), some of which had belonged to the sphere of the USSR until the collapse of the communist system of the soviets.

Currently, the process of european integration is being shaken by the effects of the greatest economic crisis in history, only comparable to that of the years 30 of the XX century, in several respects, of which I would like to highlight two in particular:

  1. Economic aspect: the european countries of the euro zone have experienced a decrease of GDP, significant, going from a +3.2 in December 2006, an -0,6 in December 2012, after slumping in December 2009, with a spectacular decrease of-4.4, with a sporadic spike in December of 2010 and 2011 of +2 and +1,4, respectively, for 2013 is expected to decrease between -0,01 and -0,9, not going up in 2014 beyond a +2, in the best of scenarios. (See the Euro-Zone GDP in datosmacro.com and article “Draghi worsening growth prospects for the euro area in 2013 and 2014″ on abc.is)
    Una encrucijada para la Unión Europea
  2. Social and political: social inequality has increased, being especially bleeding the situation of our country (see article “Spain is the country with the greatest social inequality in the European Union” in Tendecias21.net), and beyond numbers, they are attending a disaffection very significant, in two directions. The inhabitants of the central countries, for example Germany, are understanding that all their taxes are earmarked to support policies of some peripheral countries, almost all located in the south of Europe, without observing any advantage in it; in addition, they listen to the arguments of their leaders, sometimes in an irresponsible way, which put the focus on the indolence and irresponsibility in the spending practices in these countries, at their own expense. Question is not trivial, when we have access to historical data that refute many of the current positions that they want to impose austerity to the letter (see article “The austerity of germany, between the dogma and the adjustment of accounts. Greece as a paradigm” in nuevatribuna.is), and article “Soros calls on Merkel to lead the way out of the crisis or leave the euro” in expansion.com). On the other hand, the populations of the countries most affected by the effects of the crisis, very affected by the decisions that are being taken to cope with deep cuts in public spending, at the same time to see how it is destroying jobs in an expedited manner, and that the forecasts for the future that give them their leaders do not go from being mere intentions of improvement that do not quite convince, begin to question the membership of a group, integrated as it claims to be the EU, in particular the Euro Area, as something not so beneficial as they have wanted to convince. This negative perception can start to be reflected in greater support for policy options that adhere to even the output of the economy of the euro for some of these countries, supported by a few facts that are concatenated, coming to be subject of bets, even (see article “Spain and Italy are leading the stakes for its exit from the euro” in elblogsalmon.com).

Today in Cyprus has added another element of uneasiness to the scene chaotic that follows the european process. What a day looks like a firm decision about the measures to be taken by the government of that country for that to be feasible the help you need, because it seems that is about to go bankrupt, according to the news that you hear, involving the breach of a rule that gave the EU on the guarantees of bank deposits up to 100,000 euros, will be reviewed shortly after, before the refusal of the cypriot Parliament, and the evident outrage of their citizens, and of many more people in all of Europe. This procedure is qualified by many experts as a real disaster amateurish. How do you like the leaders of the EU that us europeans feel represented by these institutions that seem to be doing experiments with laboratory animals? (See “Chronology of the bailout to Cyprus,” in cadenaser.com).

Above, mix in the already complicated scenario of the management of the euro situation, in this case on account of the banking system enlarged cypriot, another actor external to the EU, but that becomes relevant even geo-political. I mean, the biggest depositors in cypriot banks are citizens of Russia, who came to them attracted by the ease offered in them to perform operations, some of which can be considered already as “money laundering”, in a country of the Euro Zone and tolerated by the community authorities. A “tax haven” shameful and embarrassing. Of course, Russia has protested against the prejudice that they will suffer their citizens, regardless of the moral consideration of their banking activities, they have changed the rules of the game to the half of the game, as they say. Still remember with other countries, not being equal to the character of the measure, of course, reacted virulently when they adopted measures nacionalizadoras over their natural resources, affecting european companies (see the article “Venezuela leads the list of expropriations in Latin America” in globovision.com).

Clear that, seen from the point of view of the new paradigm for the States, the much-hyped MULTI-level GOVERNANCE, these events are the own of conscious development and scheduled which are understood as mechanisms to be phased in decision making as they are giving the events. It is very unlikely that the people you have in your hand to make those decisions, do so chaotically, so improvised.

No one can be certain what is going to happen in the future. To solve this historical process of european integration successfully, you must focus measures on many fronts. Against economic, political, social, etc

Conclusions

To my understanding, these fronts should be the basic objectives of two aspects or main axes of action, in general:

1) take Advantage of the economic crisis to learn from the past, making possible a new economic model that prime aspects of sustainability and the development of sectors that incorporate added values, not speculative. That includes a regulation (a concept even used by the liberals wise) of the financial sector, which put at the service of the common economy of the people, not to the service of private interests exclusively.

2) Moving by democratic involvement of the population of the european countries, with a new push towards the awareness of the european citizenship, with its rights and obligations with respect to their political representatives. This issue is already a clamour in many countries, especially in the affected by the more harsh measures of adjustment. You can not want to build a space of integration of sovereign States, outside of their legitimate title-holders of this sovereignty, outside the system of government that will have every one of them. It is irresponsible to colossal people, sooner or later, will pay to their leaders.

Of course, the difficulty is immense, and you can understand that the forces acting in this scenario are enormous. Yes it can be said that we are at a crossroads and don’t know what to say about the “fathers of europe” (Monnet, Schuman, Spaak, Adenauer, etc…).

Some of the prominent politicians in the phase of final thrust, committed to a europeanism more settled, like Felipe Gonzalez, have been involved in a Committee of the Wise men, the space of reflection opened in 2007, to try to bring new impulses to the project. In 2010 presented a report in which, among many other considerations, highlighted a stark reality:

The dilemma for the EU is clear: reform or decline

When there is this feeling of uncertainty as to patent, in the midst of demands to citizenship as brutal as the ones we are supporting in all areas of what, until not too long ago, it seemed to us a State of well-being, incomplete, but positive, any prediction is risky. Maybe the only thing to wish is that you return to the constructive spirit that generated the greatest attempt of integration, to date, done by the human society.

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