Europe – many happy returns?
Sir, – There is no comparison between the Europe of today and the Europe of the first half of the 20th century. The EU has done much good, but we seem to be stumbling towards greater integration and greater disintegration simultaneously.
There is no agreement as to where the EU is headed. There is no vision. No individual, government or institution has the mandate to lead or bring any vision they may have to bear. There is no coherent vision regarding federalism or co-federalism, how to address the design flaws of the euro, fiscal integration, a banking union, Eurobonds, tax harmonisation, debt relief or youth unemployment.
For example, to my knowledge, no currency union that wasn’t also a political and federal union has ever survived. Greater political integration might seem inevitable if we are to avoid continued economic and financial instability, but will EU citizens support ceding more political and fiscal powers to EU institutions? It seems that such hard decisions might never be made. That din you hear is the rattle of multiple cans being kicked down the road.
We ignore the absence of a vision for the EU and the need for greater transparency and accountability at our peril. If these concerns are not addressed, people will continue to feel alienated and marginalised, and this will be reflected at the ballot box across Europe. It has already begun.
If you have no idea of where you’re headed, the likelihood is you won’t get there. Don’t be surprised if people get disillusioned and gravitate towards those offering a “clearer” vision in the coming years. – Yours, etc,