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Shame on you, EU!

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!

Ger­man Sum­mary
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.


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