Thursday, July 17, 2008

THE EUROPEAN QUANDRY: A 'DILEMMA' OR A 'SOLUTION'?



"This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire".

Voltaire, 1756.

"People today do not have a single idea that corresponds to the greatness of the age. But it would be the ruin of Europe if on this occasion it would not find a possible form of permanence and community".

Kurt Reizler, Aide-de-camp to Imperial Chancellor, Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg, Diary entry, 4 September 1914.

"It would be more sensible to put the Lisbon treaty on ice for several years, and try to rescue those parts that are important, uncontentious, and capable of being carried out without treaty amendment. That does not include creating a semi-permanent president of the European Council, but it does mean beefing up an EU diplomatic service, and giving more resources to the EU high representative for foreign affairs.

Europe does not need to turn the drama of the Irish No vote into a fully-fledged crisis of confidence. Everyone is fed up with negotiating new treaties. The priority should be to make the EU work better with practical policies - on energy security and climate change, for a start - with its present rules and 27 member states. The Nice treaty is not ideal, but losing Lisbon should not be seen as the end of the world".


"Time to put the EU Treat on Ice", 14 June, in www.ft.com


The reference in the FT's leader to the 'gnashing of teeth', by European leaders both at the time and since, serves to sum up the bien-pensant feelings and views of urope's post-enlightenment, cosmopolitan elites, for whom the Irish vote, coming as it does on the heels of the similar 'non' votes by the French and Dutch a few years prior, was another slap in the face by the demos concerning the dream of their Europe. But, the focus on the immediate intricacies of the Irish vote, serves to merely highlight how irrelevant and unimportant, in true power political terms the entire EU project has become in the past twenty-fiver years or so. It was possible, at one time, in the distant past in the sixties and the seventies to imagine that a united Europe, would be, could be a machtstaat, `a la the USA (if perhaps not so maladroit). No one today, or for many many years past has any such illusions. The EU of Messieurs Delors, Junker, Prodi,et. al., is a union much more akin to Voltaire's Holy Roman Empire. It is neither one thing nor the other: neither an Empire, nor a nation-state, nor a traditional sovereign state, nor a 'power state', nor is it merely what it began life as: a free trade union. In short, the EU as it is currently constituted is incapable to fulfilling any recognized role and as a consequence, is completely unable to legitimate itself to the peoples of Europe, for whom the nation-state, traditionally constituted, represents the summit (such as it is) of political allegiance and loyalties. If people questioned the need to 'die for Danzig', in the summer of 1939, how much more so, do the peoples of Europe today, question the need to die for Brussels, with its army of bureaucrats and elected MEP's, who no one votes for and who more often than not, serve no one but themselves. As some recent investigations into the finances of the members of Europe's supreme legislature show.

Europe, had a chance to be united, in some normative sense circa 1914, under German hegemony. For good or for ill, it flubbed that chance. The rest of European history since are piecemeal and failed attempts to make up for the original failure. The EU is merely another failed attempt and nothing more.

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