SODOM & GOMORRAH: The European Union continues in its path toward eventual dissolution. Eurozone leaders were divided and confused at yet another Brussels summit on the economy.
The Economist points to two solutions for the European Union. On one hand, Europe could strengthen its ties and erode more of the sovereignty of individual member-states while distributing wealth to poorer parts of the union. On the other, the EU could separate.
Superstate is Super Stupid
Individual interests are far too diverse in the European Union. I have been predicting for months that the Euro and, almost by extension, the EU won’t last through 2012. The financial crisis that the Eurozone faces is far bigger than any one or even a group of individuals. It’s simply beyond their capability to deal with. One may rightly suggest that the leaders are in many respects too stupid to adequately respond. But even if they were geniuses, I would argue that the complexities and different currents driving the crisis are too big for any governmental body to handle.
The EU made a critical mistake in making their union about economics instead of about a shared European identity. Granted, the idea of “Europe” as a singular, yet diverse whole, has been a driving force behind much of the popular support for the union, it isn’t the primary focus. It seems instead that the broader policy goals have always been about free trade between member-states, a shared currency, a unified monetary policy, and a foreign policy designed to protect members while carefully vetting new members so as to preserve the favored status of larger parties.
Economic unions work well when the economy is booming. During a period of decline, the selfish ties that brought everyone together tend to drive them apart in new ways.
There has been increasing pressure on Germany to do more to promote jobs and economic growth, but the Germans are strongly against any inflationary measures. No one has adequately been able to deal with Greece’s collapse. Very few can suggest any plausible course of action to stop Italy, Spain, and Portugal from following their Mediterranean neighbor’s lead toward bankruptcy.
Any plan to strengthen the EU is simply a plan to hold every member-state hostage to the crisis. Germany has the sanest plan; manage the deficit as best as possible, avoid inflation, let things correct as best as possible.
To force Germany, thus far a huge industrial powerhouse in Europe, to shoulder the burden of trying to bail every irresponsible European country out of the crisis will only condemn the Germans to a similar default.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is right to oppose mutualization in any form. The only way Europe stands a chance of surviving is if they abandon the idea of the EU. Merkel is the most level-headed leader of any large European power, but she may be powerless to stop the crisis from running to its worst possible outcome – after all, it is much larger than she is.