That the EU is in crisis, is no secret. The British have decided to leave and are now in the process, which will probably be a long one, of decoupling from the Union, but there are other countries, where euroscepticism is growing. Populist, nationalistic forces are rising, threatening to tear everything appart.
I have always been and still am a strong believer in a common home for Europeans, but this EU, as it is now, is not something I can support. It needs reform, not only to survive, but to satisfy peoples needs and keep European nation states as a factor on the world stage, capable to protect their interests. As it is now, not even the larger member states are big enough, to be considered big powers in the long term. Smaller member states are, left alone, destined to become satelites of other powers, opening the doors to bigger Russian, Chinese, American, Turkish influence.
European Union was founded to prevent a new conflict between Germany and France. It was not called the EU back then, of course, but the foundation was built for a Union with free movement of capital, people, goods and services. Slowly borders were being opened, a common curency for some, not all of the members, was introduced. That made it easier for people to travel, do bussiness, it opened markets. All good things. It also prevented member states from competing with each other, bringing them to a new situation, that could result in a great war, with bigger states building alliances, to counter their competitors. The EU was a success in sustaining peace.
And that is about it, when talking about positives.
The EU right now isn’t working. It is a mess. We have a bureaucracy, nobody elected, a web od relations between common institutions and member states, people really don’t understand. Who, after all, holds the power? European Commission? European president surelly not. Maybe Angela Merkel, with power of Germany being, what it is? We elect members of parliament, but not the president, who seems to be superfluous anyway. Who protects the outer borders of the Union? As we have seen in the migrant, refugee crisis, it is each state for itself. Is it then any wonder, Hungary built a fence, to prevent migrants and refugees crossing to its territory?
There are also double standards. Let us look at products quality in Eastern and Western Europe. What we have suspected for a long time, has been proven in the last months. Coca Cola sold in Germany is not the same, as Coca Cola sold in Hungary. Products are different, or inferior. Producers are explaining this as a difference in taste, but it is hard to believe. They are simply having different standards for different markets. Western and North Europeans are at the top, Eastern Europeans bellow. To make things worse, even companies based in Eastern Europe act the same. They make better products for export, than for home market.
Or, look at the stituation in Catalonia. If government in Budapest would act like Spanish authorities do, there would be lots of criticism comming from the EU. Eastern Europeans are criticized, because they do not want to adhere to the refugee quota system. But, in Spain the government can send police to try to prevent a referendum for independence, in the process beating up hundreds of peacefull voters, and few talk about decline of democracy in Spain, let alone about imposing sanctions.
Then there is the populist backclash against political elites, smooth talkers, preaching multiculturalism and globalism. Social unrest and tensions with migrant populations, toped with the divide between liberal and social democratic parties and the rest, help right wing populism, which more and more builds its support on opposition to the EU. The EU is in this case seen as an ineficient building, more a problem, than a solution. Such parties want more power in the nation states and more control on the borders, as migrations are perceived as one of the fundamental problems to be solved. Interestingly, not only in countries, where migrant populations are relatively big, but also in parts of Europe, where they are minuscule, like in Poland or Hungary.
This nationalistic rise foretells huge problems, as it is certaint, it will not be limited to migrations and fight against the center in Brussels forever. Sooner or later such populist, nationalistic movements, will revive old, not totally forgoten hatred for the neighbour. Germans against French, Hungarians dreaming of all the lands lost after World War 1, Poles in opposition to Russians in the East and Germans in the west, small Balkan states ever ready to enter a new round of blood letting, and so on. Even worse, even within existing states, there are separatist aspirations, as we can see in the case of Catalonia.
Rise of nationalistic, populist forces could lead not only to EU disintegration, but to a new war.
I believe, European Union is to be preserved, reformed. A common market, free movement of people, capital, products and goods, open borders on the inside and protected borders on the outside. We need less bureaucracy, less complicated rules. We need institutions, that work, not this mess we are in now. We should simply abandon some, like the EU Commission, and establish a presidency, with a president, elected by the people. I do not believe in a highly centralized super state. What we need, is some kind of common army, useful for protection of our borders and vital interests abroad, but not big enough ever to be used against own population. Nations states should keep their own armed forces and police. The same with foreign policy. Nation states need their own voice, but also the ability, to stand together behind a EU foreign minister, able to talk as equal with other great powers.
We do not need much else. Nation states should remain as independent, as possible, the EU serving as a house, we all live in and protect, but each having its own room, with the right to decorate it, as one wishes. Rules, adopted in the EU parliament and binding for all, should be as few as possible. That would remove the urge to scapegote the EU for the problems national elites are really responsible off.
That said, I do not believe, people ruling over us, are at this time ready or capable of any radical changes and so problems facing the EU will only get bigger, threatening to tear it appart.