The Europhiles in Brussels and across the EU will hear nothing of it. Just as they have done for decades, they dismiss the notion of the EU being split up as nothing more than small-minded chauvinism. It is easy, however, to portray your opponents as small-minded. It is much harder to actually prove them wrong. In this case, it might not be possible at all: the Eurosceptics have been proven right time and again since the start of the global financial crisis.
In fact, it turns out that the “small-minded chauvinists” have, in fact, for years and years been the most forward-thinking people in Europe. It was the Eurosceptics who forsaw that expansion of the “European family” (as Europhiles lovingly call it) was going too fast: many new member states were simply not yet ready. The cultural and economic mindsets of Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe were insufficiently aligned to accommodate a grand unification project.
These warnings were ignored, but it turns out they should have been heeded instead. Similarly, the Eurosceptics warned that the institutions of the Union were not democratic enough, and that there was not (yet) enough popular support for the EU among the peoples of Europe. Again, they cautioned, more time was needed. But no – the Europhiles pushed for more centralization, at the expense of national sovereignty and popular democracy. The EU thus became a project of the elite, disliked by the people at large.
The grand misconception of the Europhiles was that they would be able to shape Europe as they wanted: that they could force their utopian ideal on the people without any resistance at all, and everyone would come to love their creation as much as they did. Simply put: the Europhiles behaved like a bunch of arrogant tossers. As a result, they – and everyone else in Europe – are now faced with the results of their hubris. Many countries weren’t ready for a monetary union, and precicely due to that single currency, their economic woes are also ravaging the countries that were ready. The people have come to hate the EU, rather than love it.
All of this was predicted by the sceptics, but no-one listened. So, are the Europhiles at last ready to listen? Far from it. Instead of turning over a new leaf, they are prescribing more of the same! They want to continue down the road that has already led Europe to the brink of destruction. The nations of Northern Europe, by and large economically succesful and politically stable, have been paying for the nations in the South and East. For decades now, there have been vast transfers of money from the succesful nations to the unsuccessful ones.
Has this helped one bit? On the contrary: it has punished successful economic strategies while rewarding bad ones. Nations such as Greece have been kept afloat, free to procrastinate when it came to fixing their significant political and economic weaknesses. And then came the crisis, and even the usual funds from up North were not enough: the weak nations began to collapse, and the inherent instability of the EU was revealed.
This crisis, then, was not only a disaster: it could also be a lesson. A valuable lesson in caution and humility, namely this: that the EU was a project born of arrogance, and that it could never work in its current form. That it would have to be disbanded, so that the member states could first, independently, become truly equal. Only nations that can be each others equals, both politically and economically, should attempt to form a union. That’s what the Eurosceptics had been saying for years, and that’s the lesson that the Europhiles should have learned.
There was also another lesson, namely that any such union, if attempted, should rely on the support of the people involved. The die-hard Europhiles, led by Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, have never concealed the fact that they wish to eliminate the nation-state. The so-called “Eurofederalists” aim to create the United States of Europe. Mr. Verhofstadt has proudly declared that he would like nothing more than to see his own Belgium become “a province of a united Europe”.
Of course, he’s entitled to that opinion. But the vast majority of the people, in all of the member states, disagree with that opinion. So why are the Eurofederalists still trying to force their utopia on the rest of us? Well, because they failed to learn both of the lessons that the crisis could have taught them, and because they failed to respect the warnings given to them by the Eurosceptics. They knew very well that the people didn’t want a European superstate – so they did their very best to implement it anyway.
Take, for instance, Verhofstadt’s (self-proclaimed) “greatest achievement”: the European Constitution. Back in 2005, this was to be the first step in creating the United States of Europe that he so desired (and that the people didn’t want). When the French and the Dutch rejected it – and I’m proud to say that I am one of those who voted no in the 2005 referendum – the Eurofederalists were first angry, and then revanchist. They simply renamed the proposed document, removed some symbolic language, and implemented it anyway. It came into effect as the Lisbon Treaty. That is the modus operandi of the Eurofederalist: when the people disagree with your plans, simply ignore the people.
With the many faults of the European project now revealed by the worldwide economic crisis, the people disagree with European centralism more than ever. The Europhiles, however, are also ignoring the will of the people more blatantly than ever before. They have learned nothing. Where does that leave us? Where are we going? Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy, both staunch Europhiles, are mr. Verhofstadt’s spiritual and political allies, and they are in charge of the EU right now. They seem to think that this crisis is the perfect excuse to forced a centralized political system on the peoples of Europe, thus realizing the Eurofederalist dream after all. The sceptics all know that it will be a nightmare instead.
So again – where are we going? The Eurocrats of Brussels are pushing all of us in the direction they desire: the United States of Europe, which by any other name will still stink quite the same. They will probably repeat the trick they pulled on us before, with the European Constitution: the “U.S.E.” will be a centralized federation in all but name, and the member states will be sovereign in name alone.
But here’s the rub: the efforts of the Eurocrats will not solve the inherent problems that Europe is now facing. The resulting superstate, though idealized in their own visions, will in truth still consist of unequal parts – and it will still lack the internal democracy and the popular support that is neccesary for a successful union of any find what-so-ever. The centralization of power, such as through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), cannot save the EU. Even the next step, the so-called Eurobonds (another grand plan of mr. Verhofstadt), is not at all fit to solve the problems. It is simply not possible to solve a crisis caused by coersion and arrogance by means of more coersion and arrogance.
How many more crises will it take, before the Europhiles finally learn their lesson? Reality will inevitably catch up with them: if they continue racing down the road they are currently travelling (and dragging the rest of us along), they will find that their overpowered racecar will break down before long – if it doesn’t crash and burn first, that is. Better to face facts: the EU was born of arrogance, and more of the same will only guarantee its demise. Better to save what’s worth saving, and split up the European Union.
They won’t even dare to think of that solution at present. Even the expulsion of Greece is unacceptable to the Eurofederalists. My guess is that they will (be forced to) come around on that one. But it won’t be enough. The EU, in its current form, is beyond saving. Economies – nations! – as vastly different as (for instance) Greece and Germany cannot truly flourish if they are shackled together by a European straightjacket. Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe all face their own set of problems, that demand their own set of solutions. That is what the sceptics have always maintained, and what the Europhiles have always refused to admit.
Denial will no longer suffice: one way or another, the EU will break apart. The sooner the Eurocrats learn their lesson, the better for everyone. If the union is dismantled in an orderly fashion over the coming few years, there’s no denying that we’ll all face certain challenges, but in the end, we’ll all be better off. If Brussels forces a European yoke on all the sovereign peoples of the EU, we will be worse off by far. It might even lead to a civil war, if things get bad enough.
Mind you, that last one’s not an exaggeration. After all, the longer we wait, the more painful the inevitable split-up of the union will turn out to be. Already, relations between the North and the South of the union have been soured, and the longer Brussels attempts to force an unwieldy yoke on nations that are not fit to carry that heavy burden, the worse things will get. If enough pressure is put on the member states, an eventual civil war is by no means unthinkable.
Consider this: the Northern states are currently borrowing vast sums of money to bail out the South – but in truth, this money is barely enough to keep states such as Greece afloat. There is no political will in the Southern states to truly reform their ailing economies: it would hurt too much for the people to accept it. They’d much rather discard the Euro altogether, return to their former national currencies, and devaluate those while declaring a sort of bankruptcy to get rid of their current national debts. But even if they could be convinced to restructure their economies instead, it would take decades to get on par with the North. For tens of years, the North would have to borrow tens of billions (or, more likely, hundreds of billions) just to lend that money to the South in turn.
And even if the Southern states were to eventually recover, they would never be able to pay off the huge debt they would then owe to the North. Again, they’d have to declare a sort of bankruptcy to “erase” those debts. That means the Northern states would get nothing, and they’d end up with huge debts, while the South would get a free lunch: a reward for their poor economic performance. And to make matters worse, there’s mr. Verhofstadt again, with his Eurobonds: he wants to put all the debts of Europe on one big heap, meaning that the succesful states in the North will not only be paying the huge debts they are now racking up to bail out the South – they will (being the succesful “net contributors” of the EU budget) be paying everyone’s debts!
The North will never accept that, and the South will never accept the austerity measures that they would be forced to implement in return for the bailouts. If the Eurofederalist plans are carried out, it will be only a question of which “side” will be first to renege on the agreements. Depending on how much the other side stands to lose by that point, a civil war can then become a possibility. And the longer we keep going down the road chosen by Brussels, the more likely that possibility becomes.
All it takes to avoid that disastrous scenario is for the Europhiles to finally cast off their insufferable arrogance, which has poisoned the entire idea of European unity already. The Eurofederalist claim that ending the EU would spell ruin is mere propaganda; the notion that we cannot be economically successful without the EU is a blatant lie; and the suggestion that we need more centralization is a very dangerous dogma that we’d better get rid off as soon as we can. The EU can be orderly deconstructed, leaving space for a new Europe, a free Europe of sovereign states that can peacefully and succesfully coexist, each at liberty to set its own course.