Sunday, January 10, 2021

Is the European Union Imploding?

What with all the excitement on this side of the Atlantic, we have precious little mental bandwidth for events on the other side. We largely ignored the finalization of the British exit from the European Union. And we have failed to notice that the EU is moving closer and closer toward its own dissolution.

Formed as a counterpoint to America, the European Union had begun as a trading league, a Common Market. Then, leaders like Charles de Gaulle, still smarting from the appalling behavior of France during World War II, joined with the nations of the former Third Reich to assert their stature on the world stage. The Common Market was transformed into the European Union.

These nations could not defend themselves militarily. They were an American protectorate. And yet, they began asserting themselves as players in world politics, the equal of America, the Soviet Union and even the rising nations of Asia.

In some measure their political focus was always Anti-Americanism. Apparently, President Trump was the first American president who understood that the EU was freeloading off of America while pretending to be its equal.

That required it to conduct its policies, not as an American ally, but as an adversary. As America walked away from the dreadful Iran nuclear deal, Europe’s foreign policy establishment continued to front Iran. The reason-- otherwise they would have looked subordinate to America. And, we could not have that.

An international federation that is held together solely on its opposition to America is not long for this world.

Now, we have Bruce Antonio Laue, writing in Taki’s Magazine, taking the measure of the European Union. 

It was just supposed to be a trading organization, a way to make commerce easier and in so doing build a sense of friendship and understanding on a war-ravaged Continent. 

From a Common Market, the EU started to look more and more like an Empire-- perhaps not entirely Napoleonic, but still:

For decades a parade of prime ministers implored the E.U. to halt its efforts for the closer integration of nations. Their entreaties fell on deaf ears. On came the E.U. flag, the E.U. anthem, rules and regulations on literally every facet of human life. Officials began talking about a “federation” of states, with a common foreign policy and army. And then came the common currency: the euro, a fraud of monumental proportions because it sought to replace national currencies that are based upon the economic realities of each nation with the illusion of fiscal strength based on “solidarity.” It is, in reality, deeply dishonest with a distinctly anti-American flavor. Ever suspicious of Continental combinations, the British looked on in anger. When they finally had their say, they wanted out.

Need we mention that Great Britain refused to toss out the pound in favor of the Euro. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, Britain dodged that bullet.

Now, however, what with the hysterical caterwauling over Brexit, the best and brightest minds had asserted that London was done as a financial capital, and that the banking business would quickly be moving to Paris or Frankfurt.

Laue explains how that worked out:

After Brexit, France invited British banks and financial service companies to relocate to Paris, “rolling out the red carpet.” Pundits predicted impending financial doom. It never happened. Company CEOs looked at France’s constant social turmoil, including the “Yellow Vest” movement, and decided that staid, boring London was preferable to having your branch offices firebombed by malcontent farmers, Breton fishermen, and anarchists-for-hire. 

So, the final dissolution, with high drama negotiations resembling divorce proceedings, happened and everyone awaited the catastrophe. It was not to come. The two sides were playing chicken and the EU blinked:

So, the deal was signed, predictably, at the last minute. The E.U. lead negotiator Michel Barnier stated that whatever the outcome, “the British cannot have their cake and eat it.” Well, they came pretty damned close. Free trade with the E.U. was confirmed with minimal border checks (this was deemed impossible in the early days of the talks), the end of jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, the termination of the E.U. customs union, the end of unlimited immigration, and an open Irish border (also deemed impossible). Britain will not contribute to a European army, will follow its own foreign policy, and can now negotiate trade agreements with other nations worldwide.

Why did it happen as it happened? Perhaps because the notion of world government, of citizenship of the world, of the vain hope of overcoming nationalism had crashed on the shoals of national identity.

Laue considers that leaving the EU was simply the will of the people. French president Macron once said that he did not want the French people to vote on a referendum about staying in the EU, because he feared the the EU would lose.

This whole saga is about what democracy is and what it isn’t. Democracy may not bring the results you wish, but it must be respected. It cannot be misrepresented, or slanted, or—as some would wish—ignored. Forestalled, yes, but only for a while.

People ultimately know, or rather feel, what they desire, and despite the time that it takes for a mature democracy to fulfill that desire, it shall surely come to pass. Not self-important commissioners, nor self-appointed bureaucrats, nor organizations posing as sovereign powers can deny them; the people’s will, ultimately, cannot be cast aside.

The coins of an ersatz currency that they have been forced to carry in their pockets they will carry no more. Of course Poland, Hungary, Greece, and Italy are watching these developments very closely. They are trying to figure their way out because Brexit has a larger message for the nations of Europe than just the withdrawal of a great power from an ill-conceived political construct, and it is this: With consistent effort and steely determination, you too can be free again.


Sam L. said...

I wonder if there is a National Bank of Andorra. Ipart o the met a woman from Andorra, who moved to Oregon, some years back. (Andorra is a small state between parts of the borders of France and Spain. You could look it up.)


A couple of corrections to your article from someone in the UK.

1) The EU was about political unity, not trade, from even prior to its inception. It did not start as primarily a mutual trading arrangement. This misconception continues to fool Brits even to this day.

2) It was not Margaret Thatcher who prevented Britain adopting the Euro as a currency, but Gordon Brown of the Labour Party.

Sam L. said...

I don't know where that "part o the" got between the "I" and "met" came from. Must have been an alien invasion of my fingers while my mind was out to lunch. Just a senior glitch, I guess. Mea culpa.