The European Union

The European Union was supposed to be a glorious and noble institution, full of progressive enlightenment values, democracy, accountability, transparency and other great values designed to make Europe and the world a better place. It was sold as the pinnacle of Western civilization, and an example of human progress.  Instead, it has turned into an institution with a serious lack of: democracy, transparency, accountability, and often ethics. Decisions are not based upon well-established democratic procedures, but by France and Germany making ad hoc decisions behind closed doors using nontransparent and unaccountable committees with a disregard for the rule of law. Certainly it does not seem democratic — nor even fair — that France and Germany are always making all of the important decisions. That would be as if California Texas and New York were allowed to make all of the important decisions in the United States. Again and again, the European Union and its member states, have blithely disregarded rules, norms and treaties, when it was convenient to do so. Decisions are made in closed-door meetings, by organizations that have not been democratically elected.

It’s not surprising that Europeans feel increasingly ambivalent and even negative about the EU. The current Greek crisis also reflects poorly upon their leadership. The Maastrich streets was obviously based upon idealism and wishful thinking, just hoping that everything would work out, and that everyone would play by the rules, and be responsible. We would not actually be in this massive crisis now, if the member countries had actually followed the treaty that they signed. But, a few years ago France and Germany decided that they would simply ignore the fiscal requirements in the treaty, because it didn’t suit them politically at the time. How they must be regretting their decision now, since by violating of the rules, they gave everyone — including Greece — a green light to take on unlimited debts. The spending limits were the only thing that had a chance of preventing the current crisis. This casual disregard for the very rules that they agreed to follow is irritating. If I break the rules, I can be fined or even put in jail. But if governments break the rules, nothing happens.

At the present moment it seems extremely unlikely that Greece will be able to dig itself out of the debt hole that it is in . I believe that default is a pretty certain eventuality. The Greek economy is simply too weak, the debt burden is too heavy, and I don’t trust the Greek political system to make the real sacrifices necessary to get the system on track.  Instead of facing reality, the leaders of the European Union continue to insist that the debt crisis in Greece can be resolved if they just give more loans to Greece. I’m not exactly sure why the European Union does not want to face reality, since not confronting the situation will only make it worse once the inevitable happens. I can only speculate as to why the EU continues with this farce. Maybe it is because, once an ideology becomes instilled in the collective mentality of an institution, trying to change course becomes extremely difficult due to the conformist pressures of group think, and the collective pride of not wanting to have to admit that they might have been wrong.  Another possible reason is that European leaders are worried about bank losses among their own national banks if Greece can’t pay back its debts, so they will do anything to prevent the default. It certainly seems that financial institutions have been able to hijack the political leadership in both America and Europe, and gets the system to work for their interests exclusively. A third possible explanation is that, admitting that Greece has failed, might be a step back for the European Union itself. Obviously Eurocrats have a vested interest in seeing their respective bureaucracies ever-growing, and the European Union is a wonderful way to do so. Any shrinkage of the scope and power of the European Union, would probably mean a consequent reduction in their own power and privileges. After all, being a Eurocrats is probably a pretty cushy deal.  This is why at every opportunity we hear cries from Eurocrats that the solution to every problem is yet more EU, with bigger budgets and more power.

I’m not sure if the European Union will actually be able to last that long. It is possible, now that the honeymoon is over, that countries may start to fall away. There is currently enormous institutional momentum against this, but I would not be surprised if at least one or two countries eventually decide that they have had it, and want out. I think the euro itself is even more fragile. I find it difficult to see how it can survive in the long term in its current setup. There are just too many inherent structural problems. It is going to last and be workable, there needs to be major reform in the system.


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