It looks set to be a very hot week in the EU, as Greece finally defaults and maybe exits the eurozone and the EU.
Twenty years ago, opposition to the EU (then EEC) seemed to be almost non-existent. Now it seems there’s hardly a country within the EU in which there aren’t loud calls for escape from its clutches. In Austria:
Austrians have launched a petition to quit the EU, arguing that the nation will be better off economically if it leaves the union. To force the national parliament to consider the initiative activists need to have gathered 100,000 signatures by July 1…
“We are not any longer a sovereign state in the European Union. Over 80 percent of all essential legislation is being imposed by Brussels, not by elected commissioners. In our view, Europe is not a democracy. The European Parliament does not even have legislative powers,” Rauscher told Sputnik Radio…
Recent polls show that only about one third of Austrians would be in favor of leaving the EU,…
Quite aside from Greece, the signs of disintegration are multiplying. How long can it go on like this?
Today Vaclav Klaus, economist and former Czech president, today posted a long article about the Greek crisis and the EU. On the EU (my added emphases):
…The economic stagnation Europe is facing is not a historical inevitability, it is a man-made problem. It is an outcome of a deliberately chosen, and for years and decades gradually developed, European economic and social system on the one hand and of the more and more centralistic and undemocratic European Union institutional arrangements on the other. They both, and especially they together, form an unsurmountable obstacle to any positive development in the future. Let me briefly indicate some steps towards a perspective solution.
1. The European overregulated economy, additionally constrained by a heavy load of social and environmental requirements, operating in a paternalistic welfare state atmosphere, cannot grow. This burden is too heavy. If Europe wants to start growing again, it has to undertake a far-reaching transformation of its economic and social system.
2. The excessive and unnatural centralization, bureaucratization, harmonization, standardization and unification of the European continent have led to a deep democratic defect there. Getting rid of it requires changing the whole concept of the European integration, eliminating its post-Maastricht developments. We have to rehabilitate the concept of the nation-state which has proved to be an irreplaceable institution – for nothing less important than democracy. To continue repeating the erroneous view that nation-state inevitably leads to wars must be stopped.
3. The euro evidently did not help practically anyone. It weakened the self-discipline of individual countries. It created a “fuzzy” state of affairs, without clear delimitation of competencies and responsibilities. It produced an exchange rate which is too soft for the countries of the European North and too hard for the European South. It opened the doors to unproductive and involuntary redistribution (this is not an authentic personal solidarity but government-organized fiscal transfers.)
The belief that the very heterogeneous European economy could be – in a relatively short period of time – made homogenous by means of monetary unification belongs to the category of wishful thinking. Europe can be made more homogenous only by evolution, not by revolution, not by means of a political project.
4. Some directly uninvolved observers and critics (mostly from America) keep telling us – as if we didn’t know – that it was a mistake to establish a monetary union whose members enjoy fiscal sovereignty. They are recommending us to accompany it with a genuine, full-fledged fiscal union and don’t want to hear that the people of Europe want to retain fiscal sovereignty of their nations.
5. Europe faces a big immigration problem. We have to reintroduce some sort of borders, to get rid of overgenerous welfare state policies, and to forget the destructive ideology of multiculturalism. The economists should explain to politicians that the massive immigration is not a necessary precondition for restarting economic growth in Europe. European economic stagnation has not been caused by labour shortage.
6. The much needed change must start by acknowledging that the whole system has failed and that the system must be changed. Partial measures are not significant because they cannot change its substance. We need a fundamental transformation of our thinking and of our behaviour. We do need a “Paradigma Wechsel” [paradigm shift].
We should return to free-market principles, to a fundamental deregulation, liberalization and desubsidization of the European economy. We shouldn´t count on more regulation. We already have too much of it. Those of us who experienced communism have to say that we did not expect that government interventionism, to the extent we see now, could emerge again. It seemed to us that the masterminding of the economy from above was so discredited by the communist experience that it could never return. We were wrong.
We also wrongly assumed that everyone took for granted that government failure is inevitably much bigger than any imaginable market failure, that the visible hand of the government is always much more dangerous than the invisible hand of the market, that vertical relations in society are less productive (and less democratic) than horizontal relations. We were also proved wrong…
I wouldn’t disagree with a word of that. But when is the EU political class going to realise that the EU ‘project’ has failed?