Simply Jonathan

EU, a Project Doomed to Fail

EU. The beast that no one is really satisfied with at its current state, but also can’t agree on, where to take.

Generally speaking, there are two possibilities being considered:

  • Turning EU into a federal nation
  • Making it an intergovernmental institution

Of these, one is realistic, and one is ideal.

Some definitions

To set records straight, I find the need to give a definition of both these two possibilities:

Federal

Being federal means that the nation (in lack of better general term) is divided into smaller states, that decide some matters on their own, but also have a united government, that makes decisions on some matters, concerning the entire nation.

Examples of federal states are Germany, USA and Switzerland.

Intergovernmental

In an intergovernmental collaboration, members retain their sovereignty, and have the last words on all matters. Decisions can only be made with total unity, giving every part veto.

Examples of federal institutions are the UN and many charity organisations.

The current state of EU

EU is currently a very unique institution, as it’s neither supranational nor intergovernmental. There are many decisions made in EU, that the nations are then forced to implement, and as such, EU seems quite supranational. But the nations have veto on a lot of subjects, leaning it toward an intergovernmental collaboration. EU is everything and nothing, and this is what frustrates everyone concerned with it.

EU as a federal nation

When EU was first discussed, after the end of World War II, Winston Churchill described his visions as a “United States of Europe”. (It is worth noting, that he didn’t think the United Kingdom would participate, given their strong relations with USA, and their general conception of themselves as not being part of Europe.) So clearly, this was meant to be a federal nation.

The most important intent was to create a interdependence between the European nations. If their economic stabilities were dependent on the well-being of all the others’, they would be less inclined to go to war with each other, was the — admittedly clever — rationale.

The first step was to create the Coal and Steel Community. The reason these two materials were selected to form a union about, is quite obvious: they were vital for the societies, and they were especially important in the creation of weapons. The Coal and Steel Community was formed by West Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands.

Later on, many more countries joined what later became the European Communities, and then, the European Union. They never (as of this writing, anyway) became “United States of Europe”.

There are many possible reasons why there never came the great Union that was initially proposed, the main one probably being difference. The motto of EU is In varietate concordia (United in diversity), and boy, is that a fitting description. The main thing that’s blocking the creation of a supranational, is that Europeans can’t seem to agree on anything. Therefore, many nations want to retain their sovereignty, so they are not forced into accepting decisions they don’t agree with. And sovereignty doesn’t really go well with supranational.

EU as an intergovernmental institution

The other proposal is to make EU an intergovernmental organisation, thereby reducing the power EU has on decisions, and making it a more voluntary institution.

This has a low level of commitment, thus making it rather attractive. You’re not obligating yourself to anything, which makes it easier to accept it. Retaining sovereignty is generally considered a good thing amongst most.

Intergovernmentalism is a more pragmatic solution, and anyone’s only committed to what they can accept.

Good and bad

As with most things in the world, there are pros and cons with both of these.

In order to let EU progress, I personally feel the need to make it a federal nation. It was the idea from the start, and I believe that for EU to have any justification, it needs the ability to govern on some crucial topics, like economy and foreign policy.

That being said, I am not personally a fan of this idea; I believe in national sovereignty, and a supranational EU would seriously compromise this. However, I feel that, would the intergovernmental model be chosen, EU would be obsolete — there are plenty of entities for discussing models, and EU would become just another one.

I therefore support the idea of dissolving EU. EU is a pipe dream, and one of another time than now. While it is arguable that EU prevented the European nations of entering another intereuropean war, I doubt anyone really thinks that a German-French war (or similar) is realistic — EURO or not, they are interdependent anyway.

I don’t think Europe needs to speak with a single voice; it wouldn’t be a unified voice anyway, as Europeans don’t agree, and I don’t see the point — USA and China might trump the single European nations, but it doesn’t make sense either, to have a single voice, when those participating don’t agree.

I see the incentive to create a union in a time of instability, but those are times long gone, we need to realise that EU is dead.

Will EU dissolve? I don’t think so. Too many people want it to succeed to let it die. But I do think that EU will remain a useless bureaucratic beast that doesn’t really matter, due to its internal differences.

This is Simply Jonathan, a blog written by Jonathan Holst. It's mostly about technical topics (and mainly the Web at that), but an occasional post on clothing, sports, and general personal life topics can be found.

Jonathan Holst is a programmer, language enthusiast, sports fan, and appreciator of good design, living in Copenhagen, Denmark, Europe. He is also someone pretentious enough to call himself the 'author' of a blog. And talk about himself in the third person.