The BBC seems to be waking up a bit:
Could the EU fall apart completely?
…In my years as the BBC’s Europe editor, from 2005 to 2009, there was plenty of debate about the future of the European Union, but I never took seriously the idea that it might one day cease to exist. That no longer seems so fanciful.
The founding father of the European Union, Jean Monnet, used to say: “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises.”
The equation these days rather points towards subtraction, and the crisis could drive Mr Monet’s project backwards.
How these traumas are treated over the next few years will define what the EU becomes.
It is just possible it will be on a terminal path to decay and disintegration.
You may cheer, or you may mourn, but you cannot argue that it would be anything other than hugely consequential for the whole continent.
The strains that threaten to tear the EU apart can be summed up by the three nations that stand for different facets of the challenge – Greece, the UK and Ukraine.
Actually, I don’t think the UK is really part of this crisis. What’s going to happen in the UK is that, over the next year or so, Britons will be subjected to the most colossal propaganda campaign in their history, telling them that if they vote to leave the EU, they’ll face a future of total isolation and penury, in which all the trees in England will die, and all the birds fall out of the sky. And so they will vote to stay in the EU, probably by a margin of 60% against 40%. And if a majority of Britons should by some miracle vote against it, they’ll just be asked to vote again, just like the Irish were when they gave the ‘wrong’ answer.
The Greek crisis seems to me to be more symbolic than anything. Grexit will mean losing the European country in which democracy and philosophy and art first flourished, long before anywhere else. It’ll be a political disaster for the EU ‘project’, as the gradually expanding EU superstate at last loses one of its members, thereby opening up the possibility that others might follow.
Actually, it’s a lot worse than that, according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph:
Does anybody dispute that the ECB – via the Bank of Greece – is actively inciting a bank run in a country where it is also the banking regulator by issuing this report on Wednesday?
It warned of an “uncontrollable crisis” if there is no creditor deal, followed by soaring inflation, “an exponential rise in unemployment”, and a “collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership”.
The guardian of financial stability is consciously and deliberately accelerating a financial crisis in an EMU member state – with possible risks of pan-EMU and broader global contagion – as a negotiating tactic to force Greece to the table.
How can the EU hold together when it treats member states like this?
The Ukraine crisis seems to me to be the most dangerous crisis, because it’s where the expansionist EU ’empire’ has finally reached it natural limit, in the form of Russia. And it’s here that fighting has unsurprisingly broken out (all of which is blamed, of course, on Russian ‘expansionism’).
For myself, I abruptly swung from being pro-EU to anti-EU when the EU parliament voted for a Europe-wide smoking ban, and thus for the denormalisation and exclusion of a third of its own citizens. Seriously, I don’t think any polity can survive such an imbecilic act.
And I think the deepest crisis in Europe is not to be found in the UK or Greece or Ukraine ‘crises’, but in the growing disconnect between the peoples of Europe and the European political class. In my own case, the disconnect is between me and a UK political class (Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, they’re all the same) who seem to think that there are no adverse political consequences in casually and thoughtlessly excluding and denormalising and overtaxing the 20% of their own countrymen and women who happen to smoke cigarettes. The war on smokers (and on all other ‘non-ideal’ people) is shattering the cohesion of society. As also is mass immigration, and any number of other things.
What I fear is not the mere disintegration of the EU, but the disintegration of civil society, as everyone is turned against everyone else in a kind of pan-European (and in fact global) civil war. Of course the EU ‘project’ of binding all the peoples of Europe into ‘ever closer union’ will founder (and be rapidly forgotten) in the ensuing turmoil and confusion as people become ever more divided, and neighbour fights with neighbour, and friend with friend.
Unthinkable? Mi amiga perdida en España once explained to me that the Spanish civil war did not divide one part of Spain from another: it instead divided communities and friends and families everywhere in Spain. And that is now my own experience.