I'll reply on this drawing from my own experiences. I probably have had more frustrations with the EU than anyone here or anyone you know, particularly considering my field is crisis management and defence. The CSDP was created in 1999 and 21 years later we are nowhere close to anything even remotely resembling 'strategic autonomy'. You see initiatives come and go and inevitably fail again and again, only adding to the complexity of the whole environment with every new leader believing he or she needs to reinvent the wheel or just in an attempt to try and do things differently. Meanwhile not a single goal has been achieved beyond bloating the bureaucracy and it's been 21 years.
Uziq wrote:i was pro-remain because i am pro-european. i have been educated that way, i am cosmopolitan, outlooking. i did part of a postgraduate degree on french literature. i have great affection for europe. but europe is not the EU and too many remainers, the most stalwart and emotional among them, couldn't seem to separate the two. separation from the EU, it turns out, isn't a rejection of european culture tout court.
reading the neoliberal triumphalism and 'that's progress, folks' rhetoric from technocratic eggheads such as yourself has given me a new view on the EU bureaucracy. it seems parasitical and befuddled by its own orthodoxies. i don't see any original thinking or creative solutions in the EU. we are going through a TV re-run of the economic crisis and you have the same broken solutions again which have caused the continent to spiral into right-wing populism.
i used to believe, broadly, that blocs were A Good Thing. that bargaining power needs to be scaled up to compete with the superpowers on the world stage. like you, i believed that sacrificing local autonomy and throwing farmers, workers, etc. into the gyre of a global system was the price to pay for entry into this world order. now i don't really care and think it's immaterial, either way. neither the US nor china are 'friends of the EU', the trading bloc will always come a dismal third at the global table; and in the meanwhile, individual states could probably find better ways to survive on the scraps from the table.
the EU is just as full of its own bluster as any nationalist movement. i am depressed by the brexiteers. they do not seem to be engaged with reality, burying themselves away in ww2-era kitsch. but i don't think the pan-european smooth-talkers are really reckoning with reality, either. the simple fact of the matter is, without merkel and rapidly approaching another widespread economic recession (if not a disaster-depression), the EU will be thrown into the doldrums. the post-merkel EU is not at all necessarily going to be the beacon of hope, economic prudence, and cool rationality that it has preferred to present itself as up to now. good luck selling those tough fiscal packages to the south when the people selling them are no longer united behind merkel-macron, and instead look like a bickering bunch of nationalists themselves.
the people with the most collective will to see the EU succeed are the formerly marginal and newer states with the least to contribute and the most to gain from it. the dutch and danes are fairly sick of it. large portions of germany are fairly sick of it. france has been in a state of nonstop social unrest and protest for years, mostly directed at macron the neolib-EU poster boy. the UK, mortal enemies as we now are, was a huge part of its lifeblood. we're gone and we're not going to pay the tab. the EU's leadership and will are evaporating.
tough times are ahead.
and remind me what the EU did for italy and spain when they were the early forerunners in the epidemic, again? there was almost zero collective will to do anything. about a pandemic. on their own doorstep. the response was so shabby and piss-poor that the EU offered an official apology to italy for leaving it on its own to struggle with a collapsing health system. so much for all that bonhomie, eh? is the EU's only form of 'crisis response' getting the rich northern banks to reluctantly loan money to devastated states long after the fact? no thanks.
Having said so, the inaction and inability to organise has directly contributed to growing insecurity and political instability on the continent. In the middle east we failed in the face of the Iraq war, allowing the US and the UK to completely destroy that country through misguided interventionism and even worse strategy. All the resulting refugees did not come to the US - surrounding countries and the EU had to absorb this. In Afghanistan the US too was the driving force behind strategic decision making, and knowing the results it's a foregone conclusion that the Afghan government is set to fail again despite 19 years of war and sacrifice. The war created refugee streams towards the EU and more are certain to come. In Eastern Europe US aggression towards Russia allowed the Bush administration to install a missile defence shield in Poland (against Iran remember), after which the Russians started to develop new short-medium range nuclear missile launchers, undermining the INF treaty and leading to its expiration last year.
Then there was Libya. An intervention undertaken on the initiative of the UK and France, with US support, but in which it became clear that neither country or any EU nation had the means necessary to actually enforce the planned no fly zone. At first the whole thing almost failed because Germany refused to participate and grounded vital NATO AWACS systems because German military personnel manned them. When it finally commenced, the US 'leading from behind' brought over half of all military assets and fired over 90% of all cruise missiles to knock out air defences, the UK the other ~5% and everyone else 0. Within 4 weeks allied forces ran out of ammunition for bombing raids. Military airbases in Europe also didn't have enough air traffic controllers to manage the daily sorties, the US having to fly in extra personnel to help manage the situation. All that the intervention ultimately achieved was the destruction of the Ghadaffi regime, and as we know the country was plunged into chaos thereafter.
So now we get to more recent and probably better memorised instability and wars - the Arab Spring, Syria, ISIS, eastern Ukraine. Each of which had great impact on the security and political stability of the EU and in none of which it appeared possible to do much at all. In the south, failing regimes in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Somalia and everything in between is barely being contained. Explosive population growth, climate change and brewing conflicts are presenting a cocktail that will produce refugee streams so enormous anything experienced in 2014-2015 will pale in comparison. In the east Russian oligarchs are buying up most media in eastern European countries while the Russian government is engaged in daily cyberwarfare against most EU nations, also violating the physical sovereignty of neighbouring countries whenever it pleases.
The instability is not only producing refugee streams helping far right tendencies emerge within the continent, it is also of great impact to economic stability. For one because we depend on many of these countries for natural resources which we cannot trade / access if there's (trade) war, driving up international prices. Shipping lanes also move along their coastal areas, and in Somalia for example we're barely able to counteract piracy there. Flights have to be rerouted as it's unsafe to fly over certain countries, as we've seen in Ukraine. Beyond political stability and economy, the breakdown of trust in institutions like the UN and the inability of western actors to uphold the international law and agreements they created is contributing to more anarchy around the globe, destabilising our position of power, further affecting stability and economic prosperity.
All of these aforementioned problems are of impact to all European countries. Not just south, east or north. No country is able to address them on their own. Yet despite the EU not being able to act so far, it is principally for this reason that I remain pro-EU, as I know that there is no reasonable alternative to dealing with any of the aforementioned issues. The EU also has a great deal of potential especially with regard to crisis management in northern africa, as it has all the civilian crisis management capabilities at its disposal NATO doesn't have and can't call on. Be it helping other countries in managing judicial systems, police forces, economic development, democratic reform, setting up civil societies and so on - there's tens of billions of euros and hundreds if not thousands of experts that can readily be thrown at these problems. Its dependence on a council of 28 countries, while making it almost immovable most of the time, also makes it less susceptible to political short-terminism or radicalism in its member states. It can maintain engagements and relationships for very long term periods of time, 20+ years easily, which is necessary if we're talking stabilising and reconstruction in failing states or post war societies.
Does the EU need reform? Absolutely, the examples above give plenty reason to be dissatisfied. A practical issue is that I can't for the life of me understand why a country like Cyprus is allowed to block any cooperation with NATO because of its conflict with Turkey. Or vice versa, why Turkey is allowed to perpetually block any cooperation with the EU in NATO because of its border conflict with Cyprus. It's but one of many roadblocks. The principle of unanimous decision making only allows for compromise on the lowest common denominator or the least ambitious / impactful path. Nationalist governments can and do sabotage decisionmaking in the entire union, to the detriment of the whole. Paradoxically they're also required to do so - as a national government must protect national interest and as soon as any proposal may negatively affect part of their voting base or its decisionmaking autonomy, it will be fought tooth and nail.
That's also why crisis is the only moment the whole thing can move forward, as exclusively in those moments compromise has to be forced and foisted upon the parties that normally blocked it. It also explains to you why the EU may be 'not inspired' or showing little leadership. I can tell you very ambitious, intelligent, impactful plans are formulated in the EEAS or EC, but as soon as they reach the council these will be mangled until all vision is stripped from them. I don't have all the answers to solve these issues, but it must change. However, what can't be allowed to happen is the dissolution or disbanding of the EU as a whole. Not just for the reasons listed above, but because it's integral to daily life on many more levels than people know or realise, which I may highlight in other posts.
Last edited by Larssen (2020-05-16 04:23:11)