Why the European Union Is Failing
What will the future of the European Union be? Bruce Thornton projects a solution to their future that lies in the EU showing greater respect for the diversity of cultures of its member states. He states,
“The challenge facing Europe today is not just reforming its economies or crafting saner immigration policies. It is whether the EU leadership can allow a greater recognition of and respect for the member nations’ distinct identities and sovereignty….”
In short, there needs to be a better balance between the EU continental/globalist aspirations and the national identities and aspirations of the member states.
To some degree we can see the EU as using the USA as a model of federalism. Just as our states came together to form a “more perfect union,” the European member states, beginning with the Treaty of Rome in 1954, have worked step-by-step to build a common economy and other areas of integrated policy and action. The parts of Europe coordinated to form the whole known as the European Union, just as the thirteen original colonies coalesced in a spirit of unity to form our national entity.
Yet, the net result to this point was not to create a European government per se, although that may well be on the horizon, but to create a bureaucratic network of rules and regulations, a common currency (the Euro), and joint rapid reaction forces (separate from NATO). These rapid reaction forces are subordinate to the European Union Military Staff, and complement other EU military forces. The existence of a military program managed by the EU often comes as a surprise to those who think of the EU as a purely economic arrangement.
Representation to the EU management team is not elected, but is appointed by the several governments, and the leadership remains more or less anonymous. The management team is an elite cadre in top management, and mid-level and lower level management who are essentially white collar employees, all of whom are not “representatives of the people.” Also, there are vast numbers of clerical workers to carry out the extensive paperwork tasks.
In addition to the existence of the rapid reaction forces mentioned above, the security of Europe is primarily managed by NATO forces and written treaty guarantees, by special help from the U.S., and by the individual armed forces of individual member states. However, Turkey, with most of its land mass in Asia, is a member of NATO which may prove to be a weak link under various threat scenarios.
The vast numbers of rules and regulations generated by and enforced by the EU and its predecessor the EEC (European Economic Commission) become a kind of administrative state, a non-government, yet acting as a quasi-government, deriving its authority from the member states, yet not being a government in the firm sense that each of the member states is a government. It is at this point that we see a disjunction, and that the federalism of the EU, unlike that of the U.S., is a kind of bogus or pseudo-federalism.
First, the EU was not created as a bulwark against a common enemy, as was the U.S. that felt compelled to reject Great Britain because of 27 oppressions listed emphatically in the Declaration of Independence. The federalism of the EU is based on rejection of an abstraction, namely that peace is endangered by competition among the member states on the European continent. There is an assumption that common markets will breed peace, as you will not have member states each chasing scarce resources and thereby coming into conflict. Theory would hold that somehow the “good of all” economically will translate into the good of all politically.
The EU, and the EEC before it, may have been embraced as a bulwark against Germany. Germany’s aggressions led to two world wars, although politically correct doctrine usually does not condemn German nationalism, but simply condemns “nationalism” (conceived by the Europeans, according to Thornton, as a “proto-fascist throwback”). Nonetheless, despite its recent forays into utopian multilateralism via the EEC and EU, Germany still had to sign the war guilt clause of the Treaty of Versailles, and was divided at the end of World War II, and its leaders were tried with many executed and imprisoned. This is a dark backdrop to its present active leadership role in European cooperation.
But in addition to its opposition to Great Britain’s abuses of power, the USA also had a vision of “rights” that went well beyond that of the mother country. Although there were still property qualifications for voting at the time the U.S. Constitution was ratified, those qualifications disappeared in a relatively short time. Our Constitution, and even the Articles of Confederation before the Constitution, reflected a vision of humanity and of government far beyond that British Declaration of Rights which were, up until our post-revolutionary governments, the most exquisite statements of “people power” that had ever been conceived.
Many of those British rights were incorporated into our Constitution, and certainly were expressed in the separate constitutions of the thirteen original colonies before they were states, and when they became states in 1783. Under the Articles of Confederation, the government passed the Northwest Ordinances of 1785 and 1787, that described how the Northwest Territory, won from the British during the Revolutionary War, would be governed. In those laws, slavery in those newly acquired territories was forbidden. That was a great moral leap forward by the new country, and a slap in the face of the plantation slave power in the South. It was also a lesson to Britain, which still held slavery to be legal throughout its empire. In fact, our slavery prohibition in the former British territories might be considered as an opening gambit inviting visionaries like Richard Wilberforce in England to advocate and eventually succeed in having slavery abolished by our former mother country.
Additionally, we had a vision of a tripartite government, of those three branches under checks and balances, of federalism, of enumerated powers intended to restrain the inherent tendency of every government to assert more and more tyrannical control, and a Bill of Rights to articulate special abuses that individual citizens and states must be protected from. The role of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch were defined, and the means and qualifications to serve in those branches was defined. The ideal of an hereditary nobility was specifically rejected (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8) as incompatible with the aspirations of a free people.
So, while Prof. Thornton may be correct that the EU’s ailments might be somewhat ameliorated by giving more attention to the identities of the member states, the master bureaucrats of EU hegemony have failed to articulate a unifying vision for the continent that excels the single vision of each and every one of the member states. A vision of far-reaching significance, clarity, and hope cannot emerge as if it were mere policy. Just as our nation’s vision came from minds informed by the search for truth, a courageous and moral mindset, incredible knowledge of the political history of the world, philosophical immersion, and love of God, any future visions deserving of respect and providing a foundation for government must be likewise sourced. It is unlikely that the EU will ever produce such a vision.