Shame on you, EU!
- posted May 15, 2020
The corona crisis was perhaps the last chance to see a sign of life from the “sick man on the River Senne” – the European Union (EU), a men’s club located in Brussels. Made by men for men. Even the EU Commission’s own advertising blurb can do little to alter this impression: “The European Commission counts nine women Commissioners (33%) and eighteen men (67%), the best gender balance yet (…)“. But this latest round in the gender equality debate is actually a different story, despite and precisely because of the audacious election of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission.
The true (hi)story
Ever since its foundation, the main focus of the EU has not been what it seemed. Indeed, it might even be described as a birth defect.
We’re talking about its rigid focus on the economy.
A flaw that the EU has never been able to overcome. And so the inevitable happened. The internal borders restraining the free trade of goods and services were dismantled, only to be replaced by external borders. The heart of Europe was weakened, as was the chance for the “re-creation of the European family”, as Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, phrased it in a speech in 1946. He presciently foresaw the future of the continent as the United States of Europe, the structure of which needed to be strong enough to subdue the individual states. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as the German economic hegemony has demonstrated all too clearly over recent decades. The ensuing internecine strife within the Union was apparent well before the corona crisis or the Eurobond conflict between the affluent northern states and the south.
A system with no solidarity
The same was evident in the clamour to save Greece. Right from the outset the EU’s economic system has never been based on solidarity. Some could, but haven’t wanted to. Others can’t, but would like to. The whole thing came to a painful head with the United Kingdom and the decades in which it pulled towards (even) greater independence, finally culminating in the worst case scenario: Brexit. Nor is the EU averse to showing its ugly side in the form of protectionism – something which developing countries with no bilateral free trade agreement with the EU, or countries that are subject to EU “anti-dumping duties” are more than familiar with.
This issue is often swept under the negotiating table and the finger pointed at the US administration with its protectionist tendencies and America First policy.
However, these external economic borders exist not only to protect the EU’s economic interests vis-à-vis non-members or other economic blocs.
More walls to repel refugees and calm fears
On the contrary. Europe is closing itself off to the outside world and erecting new walls. One of the aims now is to use Frontex and billions of euros to strengthen the EU’s external borders against migrants. A brief look at the inhumane conditions in the Greek refugee camps is sufficient to see that the EU is failing at the humanitarian level. In the shadow of the corona pandemic, Brussels is leaving the Greeks to fend for themselves with the refugee crisis on its external borders, and there are squabbles over taking in a handful of children and families – an unedifying spectacle, involving tiny numbers in relative terms. Elsewhere, however, plenty of money is being spent on keeping alive an iniquitous refugee deal with the Turkish ruler Erdogan. All of this is happening because of the great fear within the European administration of the refugee issue. And also because of the EU’s inability to contribute very little of political substance on the geopolitical stage in recent decades. Something of which Moscow, Beijing and Washington are only too well aware. And that’s why Brussels is so afraid of the dwindling significance of Europe in the shadow of emerging continents like Asia. The financial opiate that worked for decades can no longer stop the disintegration, and hence the sounding of the EU’s death knell in its current political and economic form. The sick man on the River Senne will die and no one will even notice. Shame on you, EU!
Shame on you, EU!
Die Corona-Krise war vielleicht die Chance eines letzten Aufbäumens des kranken “Mannes an der Senne”. Gemeint ist die Europäische Union und dem zumeist starren Fokus auf die Wirtschaft. Ein Makel, dem sich die EU nie entziehen konnte.