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Why Is the European Union Failing?

The European Union (EU) was created with the “ideal” of unifying the European people after two world wars. But mass migration, youth unemployment, job precariousness, and a rise in extreme poverty have shown the project is failing.

The European Union (EU) was created with the “ideal” of unifying the European people after two world wars. But mass migration, youth unemployment, job precariousness, and a rise in extreme poverty have shown the project is failing.

Why, exactly, has it failed? Here’s a breakdown.

After the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the election of populist governments voicing increasing opposition to EU policies in Hungary, Poland, and Italy, as well as growing nationalist movements in Germany, France, and now Spain, it’s clear there is mass discontent with the European Union today.

But why, exactly, has it failed? Here’s a breakdown.

MONETARY UNION

The monetary union was created to coordinate the money supply and interest rates through a central bank in Europe.

It was first sanctioned by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and later established through the creation of the euro currency adopted by 19 member-state countries. The European Central Bank (ECB) was in turn created to coordinate interest rates – a ‘one size fits most’ approach to differing economies and differing fiscal needs. 

Euros

Nations like Italy and Greece suffered most, failing to meet the unrealistic economic directives and demands imposed by the centralized authorities, more often than not at the behest of wealthier, northern member states.

Germany – whose economic strength is largely predicated on a trade surplus with the United States – dominates the Union.

German banks invested heavily in southern European countries with interest rates they were unable to pay back. As a consequence, Chancellor Angela Merkel asked for the countries to implement austerity policies with disastrous consequences.

German government figures show the country made billions from Greece’s debt crisis.

Economic stagnation – and worse – followed.

A monetary union without a fiscal union meant that richer countries were unwilling to provide for countries facing hardship. And so the rich became richer, and poor became poorer.

German government figures show the country made billions from Greece’s debt crisis.

Imagine for a second the U.S. federal government providing loans to its poorer states, demanding a return with an interest rate, all the while cutting spending and increasing taxes if they were unable to pay back on those loans.

In other words, imagine a central government practicing usury on its own citizens, profiting from them getting poorer.

This is the Eurozone.

MASS MIGRATION

The EU was also created to unify countries with distinct national identities.

Each European country has its own language, tradition, and way of life – with regions within said countries exhibiting drastic differences, too.

Syrian and Iraqi refugees reach the coastal waters of Lesbos in Greece, after having crossed from Turkey.

Asking distinct nations to give up part of their identity for a larger, common European identity could have worked if a European identity had been established during the advent of Union itself.

But fundamental questions, such as “What does it mean to be European?” were left unanswered. Perhaps because there is no coherent answer.

We’re often treated to a refrain – or rather a dirge – describing the “liberal values of diversity”.

But instead of celebrating the diversity of nations and regions within Europe, the EU sought to create a new kind of diversity by celebrating identities from outside of Europe and demonizing those inside.

With the migrant and refugee crisis in 2015, Merkel and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker allowed millions of people from outside of Europe to enter indiscriminately. No distinction was made between migrants and refugees at the border.

The failure to establish vetting procedures hurt actual refugees the most, as their genuine claims for asylum were not prioritized over migrants with no justification to enter.

The failure to establish vetting procedures hurt actual refugees the most, as their genuine claims for asylum were not prioritized over migrants with no justification to enter.

Criminals and terrorists took full advantage.

This open-border policy resulted in a rise in Islamist terrorism in Europe, alongside ethnic and religious tensions between both the new arrivals and the people receiving them. As a consequence, anti-mass immigration movements began to rise in Western Europe.

The League in Italy, the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, the Rassemblement National in France, and now Vox in Spain.

These parties, which previously barely received 5 per cent of the national vote, are now an integral part of parliaments across the continent.

Their voting bases are constituted of working and middle-class people who previously voted for left-wing, socialist parties.

Rassemblement National’s Marine Le Pen

These people switched allegiance in large part because of immigration; when they saw their governments take care of foreign needs before their own, and when they were facing unfair competition with cheap labour from abroad.

The left-wing parties that previously represented working-class needs focused instead on advancing the interests of a new proletariat of foreigners.

On the issue of immigration, the European Union continues to actively neglect the needs of Europeans.

NO ACCOUNTABILITY

The European Union is a supra-national body, which means it takes away the sovereignty of individual nations in order to make decisions for nations as a whole. Don’t believe me, take Guy Verhofstadt MEP’s words for it:

The organs that were created to establish these policies are almost wholly unaccountable – a common theme of the Brexit referendum campaign in Britain in 2016.

The European Commission – the executive branch and most important organ of the Union – drafts the laws implemented in member-state countries.

Lost yet? That’s sort of the point.

But the Commission is unelected by the people, and de facto constituted of bureaucrats otherwise known as “commissioners”, proposed by the Council of the European Union, approved by the European Parliament, and finally appointed by the European Council.

Lost yet? That’s sort of the point.

This overly complicated and convoluted system doesn’t allow European citizens to choose or hold accountable the people drafting their laws, directives, and regulations.

The soulless Berlaymont building, home to the European Commission

It makes the legislative process remote, and unresponsive to people’s needs.

Moreover, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is the former president of Luxembourg – a tiny but wealthy nations with fewer citizens than the City of London. He has no experience, nor qualifications in being the head of the legislature of 28 European countries and 513 million people.

Juncker is also regularly seen “tired and emotional” at international meetings where he stands as representative of the EU. He was recently seen acting inappropriately with heads of states and representatives at political conferences.

Because who’s going to stop him, right?

Europe’s monetary union has failed to bring prosperity to European economies. The immigration crisis has fueled ethnic and religious hatred. And a system where laws are created by remote bodies made of commissioners the population has no way to hold to account have made the European Union one of the largest political failures in history. 

Unsurprising that its greatest proponents are polling at record lows, while nationalists like President Trump, Prime Minister Orban, and Captain Bolsonaro are confounding their critics with relatively high approval numbers.

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Written By

Alessandra is a freelance journalist focusing on North Africa, Europe, and the United States. She first started her freelance work in North Africa for the Arab newspapers Middle East Eye, The New Arab, and Al-Monitor. Alessandra then moved back to Italy, where she worked for the Italian newspapers il Foglio, Gli Occhi della Guerra, and il Giornale and the German newspaper Junge Freiheit, where her work was translated into German. She also wrote for the American media outlets Jamestown foundation, First Things magazine, and The Daily Caller. You can find her work on her website: www.alessandrabocchi.com and follow her on Twitter @alessabocchi

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