Sunday, January 24, 2016

Spiegel Online is running a piece by Henrik Müller on the increasingly obvious intersecting crises of the European Union in Kontinent der Krisen: Was passiert, wenn Europa scheitert 24.01.2016.
Europa habe sechs bis acht Wochen, um die Flüchtlingskrise in den Griff zu bekommen, mahnt der niederländische Regierungschef Mark Rutte. Und falls das misslingt? Müssten wieder Grenzkontrollen eingeführt werden; das Schengen-Abkommen für grenzenlose Bewegungsfreiheit in Europa sei dann hinfällig.

Jean-Claude Juncker, der Präsident der EU-Kommission, formulierte kürzlich eine Art europäische Dominotheorie: Scheitert Schengen, gibt es keine Freizügigkeit mehr für Arbeitnehmer, der Binnemarkt wäre in Gefahr. Ohne offen Grenzen aber macht der Euro keinen Sinn. So ähnlich sieht das auch Frankreichs Premier Manuel Valls: Er sieht das gesamte europäische Projekt in ernster Gefahr.

Die lange Eurokrise, in der Risse zwischen den Mitgliedstaaten sichtbar wurden, war offenkundig nur das Präludium. Nun werden aus Rissen tiefe Gräben.

[Europe has six to eight weeks to get a handle on the refugee crisis, cautions the Dutch head of government Mark Rutte. And if that doesn't happen? Border controls would have to be opposed again; the Schengen Agreement for borderless freedom of movement in Europe would then be nugatory.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, recently formulated a kind of European domino theory: If Schengen fails, there will be no more free movement for employees, the {EU} internal market would be in danger. But without open border, the euro would make no sense. France's Premier Manuel Valls sees is similarly: he sees the whole European project in serious danger.

The long euro crisis, in which the divisions between the member state became visible, was clearly only the prelude. Now the divisions are becoming deep trenches.]

This is probably in part scare talk to try to get EU members to agree to Merkel's demands on accepting refugees.

But it's also a realistic description of the current situation.

The construction of the EU was faulty, and all the participants knew it. The design of the euro even more so, though that probably wasn't as clearly realized by the EU publics. But up until Angela Merkels Chancellorship and the beginning of the euro crisis in 2009, the EU confidently assumed that the desire for political unity would force the member states to fix the design problems in the eurozone and the EU.

Officially - and largely in reality - the measures of economic union were primarily intended to promote political union. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) established in 1952 is a major example of that approach. The ECSC is generally considered to be the first formal agreement that stands as a direct predecessor to today's European Union.

As Yanis Varoufakis et al write in Modern Political Economics (2011):

European leaders, such as Robert Schuman (a leading light in the ECSC's creation), stressed the importance of this coming-together from the (pertinent) perspective of averting another European war and forging a modicum of political union. Creating a shared heavy industry across, primarily, France and Germany would, Schuman believed (quite rightly), both remove the causes of conflict and deprive the two countries of the means by which to persecute it. (p. 312)

But with the onset of the euro crisis and Angela Merkel's successful determination to handle it according to her unrealistic, truly reactionary doctrine of ordoliberalism, the economic unity of the euro became a force that drove the EU nations apart rather than pulling them together.

Europe Day this May 9 may be more an occasion for mourning than for celebration.

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