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March 5, 2021

The European turmoil

Of late, we have witnessed ample debate in Europe about the future of the continent, against the background of the euro crisis and also of the American ‘pivoting’ towards Asia, mostly understood as implying the perspective of disengagement from Europe. There is a clear and undisputable effervescence and turmoil, resulting either in the start of debates about the new geopolitics of the continent and the recently appeared ‘intersecting circles’ with Germany claiming the role of their motivating factor, in which the role of NATO is carefully questioned in terms of continental future, or the European integration is seen at different speeds, with a tough nucleus consisting in the rich states of the euro zone, or in the launching of the idea about the rapid construction of the United States of Europe, with a start named the ‘banking union’ meaning the centralised supervision of the 6,000 banks of the continent, or the founding of a ‘European army’ capable to operate if a crisis appears, with the contribution of those willing to join the effort.

An example is the bilateral meeting of the leaders of France and Germany held at the end of last week, which re-launched the celebration of half a century from the signing of the crucial treaty between de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer at Elysee (1963), by evoking a famous speech delivered by the French president in September 1962, before the German youth. This founding treaty laid the bases of a Europe motivated by the French-German cooperation. Francois Hollande spoke in optimistic words about the benefits of the ‘banking union’ taken into consideration in the action of mutualising the debts of the euro states through the intervention of the European Central Bank. On the other hand, Chancellor Angela Merkel had reserved remarks concerning this file. Furthermore, Chancellor Merkel multiplied the allusions to the need of deepening the European political union, while Hollande prefers to speak about the “integration solidaire”, in which the strengthened political union means more meetings of heads of state and government. The cautious attitude of Chancellor Merkel became easily understandable Monday, when voices were heard in Berlin – also from within the ruling coalition – about the necessity that the German Parliament once again approves that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), operational starting October, which would intervene for eventual bail-outs, has instruments for disposing of sums equivalent to EUR 2 trillion (hence capable to intervene in case of trouble in support of Spain of Italy). Moreover, the speaker of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz said – quoted by ‘Der Spiegel’ – that “the European Commission’s plan for introducing joint overseeing of banks in the euro zone by the end of the year is looking increasingly unrealistic.”Against this background of confusion about the future conceived by politicians for the future of Europe, which pushes back, at least, the moment of a firm action meant to end the crisis – the ‘federalisation’ recently proposed by the president of the European Commission, Barroso, to be achieved in 2014, preceded by the European ‘banking union’ – one can notice the appearance of a new political trend: the extreme euroscepticism. It is undisputable that political euroscepticism existed as an expression of diversity in most member states; in the UK, for instance, it is a real and influential political force, which currently acts in view of a referendum over the country’s presence in the EU. But its recent forms of action reject the European project itself, which they blame for the capital mistake of bureaucratisation and for the annihilation of democracy.One of the main representatives of this new current is the president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, an outspoken opponent of sovereignty transfers from member states to Brussels (he delayed as much as he could the sanctioning of the Lisbon Treaty, endangering its very coming into force). In an interview granted a few days ago – which will be aired only next Sunday – Mr. Klaus speaks about the recent Barroso proposal (September 12) of transforming the EU into a federation, firmly saying: “This is the first time he has acknowledged the real ambitions of today’s protagonists of a further deepening of European integration. Until today, people, like Mr Barroso, held these ambitions in secret from the European public,” and “I’m afraid that Barroso has the feeling that the time is right to announce such an absolutely wrong development.” “They think they are finalising the concept of Europe, but in my understanding they are destroying it.”The interview excerpts published by ‘The Telegraph’ in advance clearly hint to Mr. Klaus’ fear that the federation is not the adequate form of expression in Europe for small states: “We were entering the EU, not a federation in which we would become a meaningless province.” He also accuses an acute lack of responsibility displayed by European politicians, whom he accuses of “destructive mentality” that pushes them to give up – he affirms after a recent visit to Italy – the exercise of leading their own country: “It was really very depressing for me how many leading Italian politicians expressed the view that it is necessary to shift competences from Italy to Brussels because of one thing: they passively accept they are not able to make rational decisions themselves”. This transfer of political authority to supranational bodies only erodes the mechanisms of democracy, closely connected in his conception to the existence of the nation-state. Or, the projected federation of “hypocritical politicians” only destroys the nation-state.As it can be easily noticed from the comments made to the excerpts of the interview granted by Vaclav Klaus, such opinions are not singular. One may expect that, as the actions towards the implementation of the European federation intensify, this anti-supranational trend gains momentum in Europe.

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