European United States
This week on Facebook: I decided to post the articles from a special series by National Public Radio (npr) with the title of: Midlife Crisis — State Of The European Union (presented in an audio format and an included transcript).
We will have these great United States of Europe, that are the crown of the old world just as the United States of America are the crown of the new one. We will have … a country without frontiers, a budget without parasitism, a commerce without duties … youth without barracks … justice without scaffold … truth without dogma. Victor Hugo — Peace Congress, Lugano, 1872
If it is France that has given European unity its history and provided the vocation to serve as a guide and a model in Hugo’s European dream, France may also be the major cultural and economic stumbling block to the dream of a unified European State. The French views fostered by Victor Hugo have always remained closer the visions and rhetoric of Charles de Gaulle and Napoléon Bonaparte than those of Jean Monnet or Robert Schumann.
It may be that the EU has a collective vision beyond that of a combined French political and German economic hegemonic Europe. However; a country without frontiers, a budget without parasitism, a commerce without duties, a youth without barracks and truth without dogma are all yet to be realised. Europe is still far from being homogenous and united.
(Monday) A Fitful Dream — European Unity Shaken By New Woes: The EU social model, based on various versions of the welfare state, has been eroded by national debt and budget-cutting austerity measures. And a newly assertive Germany is causing anxiety among its union partners. In Brussels, glass and steel buildings house the EU central command. With the burgeoning Eurocrat workforce at 45,000, more high-rise offices are under construction. In the European Union capital, there is no sense of crisis. But among the 27 EU member nations (only 16 opted into the single-currency monetary union), angst is growing over the future of the postwar effort to unite Europe.
(Tuesday) Stalwart To Skeptic — Germany Rethinks EU Role: The financial calamity of the European Union’s sovereign debt woes has shaken the pillars of the postwar ideal of a united Europe. The debt crisis and the global downturn have left many European countries looking inward these days and viewing Brussels as increasingly irrelevant. Germany, long a postwar champion and financier of European integration, is flexing its muscles more independently. And more of its citizens are questioning the country’s leading role in the European project.
(Wednesday) Can The European Welfare State Survive? One of the defining ideals of the European Union has been its social support system, often referred to as the European welfare state. The shared belief among EU nations that the state has a responsibility to care for its citizens has become a kind of common culture, unifying 27 different nationalities. But the European welfare system — largely put in place during the high-growth years following World War II — is under economic and demographic pressure. And the recent debt crisis is shaking the foundations of the European Union’s shared social vision.
(Thursday) Spain’s Boom To Bust Illustrates Euro Dilemma: Until recently, Spain was the prosperous “Iberian Tiger,” the biggest creator of jobs among Europe’s 16-nation single currency zone. But the global financial downturn dealt a devastating blow to Spain’s once-vibrant economy, now struggling with a 20 percent jobless rate — the highest in the eurozone. As in other southern European countries that adopted the euro, it’s a time of tough austerity measures and uncertainty about the future.
(Friday) In Europe — Obstacles To A More Perfect Union: Eleven years of the euro currency — which has now been adopted by 16 of the 27 EU members — and decades of the European Union itself have done little to dampen the fierce nationalism that contributed to so many wars in the past. Neither has it persuaded citizens of European countries to become more European, and less Dutch or German or Irish. The battles may now be confined to the soccer field, but across the continent, ordinary people are still expressing doubts about moving toward a more political union — a United States of Europe — as well as an economic one. It turns out that it takes more than a few EU treaties and a new currency to overcome centuries of nationalism.
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