29 December 2015

The EU Trembles

Already under tremendous pressure due to the financial strains of the worldwide recession and tensions over the status of the Euro, the EU itself is now faced with a number of growing crises.

Right-wing Nationalism was already on the rise as many people have grown frustrated with the heavy hand of the Brussels bureaucracy. Internal immigration, free trade and EU standards have led many to question the EU project as their own livelihoods and localised cultures have suffered at the hand of the new arrangement. There are suspicions regarding bureaucrats and bankers and the new system which arose in earnest from the ashes of the Cold War.

In the 1990's and even into the early 2000's Europe was ascendant and there were hopes of rivaling and even surpassing the Americans in terms of economic power and worldwide cultural influence. The European way seemed a better path to many as opposed to the rags or riches option America seemed to offer.

The financial crisis tarnished the reputation of Europe and since then the weaker countries have grown suspicious of not just Brussels but Paris and Berlin. The EU project was to create an equitable and peaceful Europe and eliminate nationalist threat and domination. It was supposed to guarantee peace between France and Germany and allow the other nations to participate in order to balance power.

In the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis it looked like the EU had created conditions that allowed France but especially the massive economy of Germany too all but dominate Europe. Sixty some years after the conclusion of WWII, Germany was once more seeking the mastery of Europe.

And then the Middle Eastern immigration crisis began in earnest as well the growth of tensions with Russia over Ukraine and NATO expansion.

The EU continues to be pushed. They now face the rise Front National, various right wing parties in Scandinavia and the Low Countries, growing separatist movements in Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. And now the Poles have elected a Right wing government that has pushed Brussels into crisis mode and the potential of a coming confrontation.

The United Kingdom wants to renegotiate their status and be granted exemptions in the realm of finance and immigration. France and Germany fear a departure, the so-called Brexit but permitting Britain to dictate its own terms destroys the EU's integrity and claims to moral authority.

Will the EU survive?

US policy especially on the Right has been wary of the EU and for some time viewed it as a rival. The US wanted NATO as the mechanism which bound Europe together. The European Community though founded to thwart US domination wasn't a problem in the 1960's through the 1980's, but the formalisation of the Union and the later creation of the Eurozone made Europe a serious geopolitical contender. For a time it seemed like the dollar was under threat.

As usual the US has worked to undermine aspects of European power and one of the primary tools was the close alliance with the UK which has never really considered itself to be part of Europe.

But now more than ever the United States wants the EU to remain and to avoid splintering. The United States wants to exert influence through the UK, pacify and unify Europe in order to stand against Russia. One wonders though if the US wouldn't prefer Right wing regimes to accomplish this goal? If so, they're seeing considerable success and yet it may push the EU to the breaking point.