Europe “à la carte” ” “Overcome by the global era

Shattering forces and behaviours increase across the EU. But the world map is full of giants. And only unity makes us strong

Will Greece be spared from the scourge of default, thereby avoiding an economic and financial contamination across the eurozone? What will the United Kingdom choose when in 2017 it will be called to take part in the referendum that will decide its presence in the EU? Will France and Spain welcome the refugees that the Commission proposes to redistribute as a form of solidarity across all member Countries? These are only some of the questions that hang like a sword of Damocles over the future of Community integration. Indeed, these are very different issues, however there is a common denominator: the vision of a “Europe à la carte” that re-emerges from time to time, according to which everyone takes from the EU what suits them the most, what pleases them and what interests them. Even to the detriment of other people’s interests, or, rather, of the “European common good”. Every single day – especially since the lack of thrust that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall or since the outbreak of the economic crisis – there is a national government that makes a partisan claim, that demands an opt-out clause, declaring its detachment from a political process that should instead tend towards unity, notwithstanding the respect of diversity. This is true for Greece. The Country was deeply affected by the crisis in the sovereign debt, by recession, by widespread corruption. Athens asks for help and for money to the EU, but it complains over the heavy-handed measures of the Troika (EU Commission, ECB, IMF), finally, it pretends to remain in the eurozone area without respecting macroeconomic criteria on which the euro’s stability reposes. If an agreement between the Tsipras government and the creditors failed to emerge over the past hours, national stability would be at risk too, while Europe would suffer a severe economic and political blow that would be hard to manage. Moreover, Cameron’s newborn government, in presenting the lines of action for the coming years, announced, with the Queen’s ‘blessing’, a popular referendum for a yes or a no to Europe. Unless the criteria of the island’s permanence in the EU are “renegotiated” … It’s as if Community Treaties, freely ratified by its member Countries, could undergo repeated haggling. Not to mention the fact that London already enjoys various facilitations in the framework of the EU, starting from a consistent (and hardly justifiable) “rebate” on the budget subject to various opt out clauses. There are many other examples. Brussels is trying to define a common policy for migrations, which everyone is demanding in words, but when the “quotas” for the repartition of migrants arriving from the Mediterranean are mentioned, France and Spain speak out, followed by Slovakia, Hungary and many other States. Does the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU forbid capital punishment? But Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban said he intends to continue discussing death penalty, as he feels free from that perspective. Does Catalonia yearn for independence from the rest of Spain? This means that it is advancing in the direction of secessionism, however pretending to stay inside the EU so as to continue receiving the longed-for community grants. There are many similar cases, such as the decisions according to “variable geographies”, just think of the single currency, adopted by 19 out of 28 member Countries; the Schenghen Treaty for the free circulation of people and workers (one of the pillars of the Community since its foundation in the 1950s); to the step backwards on a set of aspects of Maastricht and the following treaties, like in the case of social cohesion. In this framework it’s hard to create a real single market capable of withstanding competition such as the US, China, India or Japan, or a common defence (also because of the lack of a common foreign policy), a fiscal system with coordinated rules (to avoid internal competition and social dumping), a Union of energy, a responsible response to migration flows marked by solidarity… The European Union is a very original and – it must be admitted – equally imperfect political construction. It is tasked with ensuring peace and development through strengthened economic cooperation that will gradually create a political unity. But if each capital continues pulling the reins in opposite directions, it is unlikely that a common goal will be reached. The consequences are 28 modest national units in a world map with giants as major players. Unity makes us strong, the saying goes. And it appears to be all the more true in the era of globalization. Maybe Europe “à la carte” is beyond the deadline.

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