The Death of the Dream of a United Europe

 

End of EUOn Tuesday afternoon, EU Interior ministers forced through a plan, by majority vote, to relocate 120,000 refugees now in Greece, Italy, and Hungary among the rest of the EU nations. Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic voted against mandatory quotas, and Finland abstained. I say “forced,” because this deal was surrounded by an unusual amount of EU-infighting and controversy.

Earlier this month, Germany unexpectedly reintroduced temporary controls on its border with Austria, and suspended all train travel between the countries for a full day, citing the consistently high inflow of refugees into the country. The member states saw this as a clear signal from Germany that it would not stand alone in bearing the burden of the crisis. The decision followed widespread criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the crisis from within her own ranks, with former ministers calling the Chancellor  “starry eyed,” and warning that opening the borders to uncontrolled and unregistered immigrants would have devastating long-term consequences. According to the German Press Agency, the German vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, wrote to SPD party members announcing that Germany may now expect up to one million refugees instead of the 800,000 formerly forecasted by the Interior Ministry.

The EU’s interior ministers have been meeting for the past weeks in an attempt to break the deadlock, with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia against the proposed mandatory burden-sharing. European Council President Donald Tusk said that if a consensus couldn’t be reached, countries that support the Commission’s proposals ought to force those who oppose to comply through qualified majority voting and by withholding funds and benefits.

Under the terms of Tuesday’s deal, 66,000 people will be added to 40,000 approved in July for relocation. The remaining 54,000 will not be moved until next year, bringing the relocation total to 160,000. Of the 66,000, Germany and France will take almost 30,000, while Spain and Poland will take just over 8,000 and 5,000, respectively. However, the figures will be revised downward slightly to account for the participation of Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

This agreement changes the game — not only as far as the refugee crisis goes, but for postwar Europe and the centralized power of the EU. A deal may have been achieved, but not without considerable rumbling and discontent from just about everyone but Germany and France, the two major refugee-hubs in need of acute dispersion. The UK initiated the dissent by arguing for a more decentralized EU, with areas such as asylum policy subject to domestic, democratic control. The UK has also, along with Denmark, started cutting subsidies for asylum-seekers, and doing so quite publicly so to discourage potential migrants. Seeing the error of their ways, it is probable that more countries will follow suit, realizing the values of borders and boundaries long after theirs have already run out the clock.

If one were prone to smugness, this would be a time to relish. The European Union has spent considerable time, money, and effort criticizing Israel for what it perceives as Israel’s hawkishness and racism in its interactions with its surrounding states and hostile outside entities, all while touting Europe’s own post-liberal utopia. As the European Union now faces its first real influx of non-European immigrants, one imagines that a major case of hindsight is about to set in.

After World War II, Europe rejected borders, nation states, and national identities. It decided on a brave new world, based on an idea. What the un-united states of Europe failed to understand, though, is that no matter how much they wished the rejected values had died in the war, they still mattered; and those things are still true. Europe consists of radically different countries that share neither a common language nor a common culture nor even a common religion.

Europe is not the US, and it is not united, no matter what bureaucratic force has been applied.

The immigration crisis highlights the inherent problems with the EU, and may very well cause its dissolution, bringing with it a dramatic change in demography and geopolitical might. The European peace project ended up exacerbating the refugee crisis while abandoning the Syrian people on the ground, the Kurds in the hills, and the children dying to reaching a European dream — a dream that never really existed beyond the pages of a post-war manifesto.

 

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  1. John Hendrix Thatcher
    John Hendrix
    @JohnHendrix

    The end of the EU?

    Good bye.

    Good luck.

    Good riddance.

    • #1
  2. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Annika,

    ..hmmmm…National Identity…National Fiscal & Monetary Policy….National Immigration Policy. The grand social scientific illusion that one size fits all is splitting at the seams. The EU could use a tenth amendment. Actually, the United States could use the tenth amendment. We could start by remembering it is already in the Constitution.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
  3. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I never thought that the EU would make it over the long haul.  Maybe this is what it will take to crack the German / France occupation of the continent.  Odd how modern Germany with the help of France has managed to do peacefully what the Nazis only dreamed of under force of arms.

    • #3
  4. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Just one quibble about the title. It should read Nightmare instead of dream.

    Or even better, When The Dream is Shown To Be a Nightmare.

    • #4
  5. Lady Jane Grey Inactive
    Lady Jane Grey
    @LadyJaneGrey

    “exasperating the refugee crisis”

    While it’s possible that this turn of phrase wasn’t the original intent (“exacerbate the refugee crisis”, perhaps?), it does seem to cover the European reaction to the situation. And well they should react so.

    Any bets on whether US lovers of everything EU will begin to reassess our porous southern border?

    • #5
  6. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that some EU ministers are deliberately using the twin crises wracking Europe, refugee and economic, in order to force the issue on a centralized, truly federal EU.

    While some may be objecting:

    But Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico says his country – which was one of four nations that voted against the plan – will be challenging the deal in EU courts.

    “We will go in two directions: first one, we will file a charge at the court in Luxembourg… secondly, we will not implement the (decision) of the interior ministers,”

    …Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said the migrant crisis should be dealt with within existing laws. He also said his country should “reconsider its relationship with Russia”.

    Others are knuckling under:

    But some of the European countries that previously opposed the quota plan have said they are prepared to work with system.

    The Czech Republic’s prime minister says he will not take legal action against the plan.

    Bohuslav Sobotka said: “Even though I don’t like the use of the quotas, I don’t agree with them and we voted against them, Europe must not fall apart over solving the migrant crisis.”

    With the carrot of full fiscal union being held out for doubters:

    The French economy minister has called on eurozone member states to set up permanent transfer mechanisms to channel funds from richer states to countries in difficulty…

    I do not believe this is the end of the EU just yet.

    • #6
  7. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Annika Hernroth-Rothstein: As the European Union now faces its first real influx of non-European immigrants, one imagines that a major case of hindsight is about to set in.

    The current wave of refugees/migrants is a serious crisis, but my impression is that many European countries have already experienced major Middle Eastern immigration.  Mark Steyn wrote about this in America Alone nine years ago, and the process was pretty far advanced at that time.

    I agree with AHR that the current situation is exposing gaping cracks in the foundation of the EU.

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    As Roberto suggests, this is simultaneously bad for the stability of the EU and an opportunity for forceful consolidation by EU officials.

    I don’t expect the EU to dissolve any time soon. But whatever the EU’s movements from here on, the European states it represents have already accepted the poison of Muslims ready to outbreed residents with what we used to know as Western values.

    • #8
  9. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    It’s not for me to tell Europeans how to organize themselves, but it is beyond me in understanding why countries would give up their right to self determine their future to an amorphous entity of which I wouldn’t feel any allegiance to.

    • #9
  10. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Fake John Galt:I never thought that the EU would make it over the long haul. Maybe this is what it will take to crack the German / France occupation of the continent. Odd how modern Germany with the help of France has managed to do peacefully what the Nazis only dreamed of under force of arms.

    Post-Roman European history has been one long, mostly unbroken line of French and Germans trying to take over the continent. Charlemagne, the Hapsburgs, Napoleon, the Nazis…

    The EU is just the continuation of a long tradition.

    • #10
  11. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Comfortable and easy pretensions die in the harsh light of reality.

    • #11
  12. Troilus Inactive
    Troilus
    @Troilus

    Ms. Hernroth-Rothstein,

    I hope you are right but fear you are too optimistic. No one now believes that the EU has a happy future – except those who want to believe. Unfortunately, those who want to believe are those who either rule over every distinct Western nation directly, or those who rule indirectly by setting the limits on what is and is not acceptable for thought. And no matter what new piece of evidence – there will surely be more – comes before their eyes, they will not give up on their pseudo-religion or metaphysic.

    My comments are premised on the observation that man, aware of his mortality, yearns desperately for a meaningful life. But what is meaningful depends on an absolutely certain notion of human beings. Those who believe in the nations moving forward, hand-in-hand, without conflicts or contradictions, without class antagonisms and resentments, i.e., the European project, will not and cannot bear to consider that their beliefs are false. For that would mean that they have done great harm to their people, and do not deserve the rule or status they enjoy or hope to enjoy. It would mean that the reason they get out of bed in the morning is for nought, and their legacy worth nothing. Thus, to the last moment, even as the butcher’s blade smiles by their necks, they will clutch to their nonsense. For a spiritual annihilation is for them a fate worse than physical annihilation.

    • #12
  13. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Umbra Fractus: Post-Roman European history has been one long, mostly unbroken line of French and Germans trying to take over the continent. Charlemagne, the Hapsburgs, Napoleon, the Nazis… The EU is just the continuation of a long tradition.

    This is exactly right, and the EU has been a much more benign effort than any of the previous ones, except perhaps the Hapsburgs. I’ve evolved from thinking that the EU is an anti-democratic joke to thinking, “For all its flaws, the EU is one of the world’s more stable and successful postwar structures. Maybe democracy isn’t as important as I thought it was.”

    The Euro was — obviously — a huge mistake. But I’ve come to think that the conservative position on the EU is now, “Prop this thing up and keep it together at all costs, even if it involves a lot of fudging and lying and bribing.” I don’t want to see what happens if it falls apart. I don’t think any of us do.

    As for the refugees, as I keep pointing out — if a million immigrants are enough to change the culture of a continent whose population is 750 million, then the problem isn’t with the immigrants. The problem — necessarily — is with the culture of the continent, which if so easily undermined, must have been rotten to begin with. And European culture is rotten in places — as is American culture — which is why people are worried.

    But neither are rotten the way the Arab states were, so on good, days, I think it’s realistic to be mildly hopeful that we’ll make it. And given the global chaos level, these predictions really are more about whether I woke up in a good mood or a bad one than anything I can really predict.

    • #13
  14. jonsouth Inactive
    jonsouth
    @jonsouth

    The EU is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – cloaking itself in an optimistic vision and pretty flag, but carrying the same old subjugation underneath. The ‘common market’ as they used to call it was probably a good idea, but that’s all Europe needed to stay peaceful and prosperous. A free trade zone, preferential immigration between states without completely open borders, regular dialogue between leaders.

    The ‘ever-closer union’ envisaged by many, however, is much darker. A toothless elected parliament as a distraction while the real decisions are made by the undemocratic European Commission. Referendum results in individual countries are ignored, and smaller states are bullied into swallowing EC decisions. An improperly-implemented universal currency causes economic chaos, and open borders cause a flood of third-world migrants to the most generous welfare states. Citizens feel powerless to control their own destiny and have begun to resent a Union which they now realize is not the one marketed to them over past decades.

    • #14
  15. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: This is exactly right, and the EU has been a much more benign effort than any of the previous ones, except perhaps the Hapsburgs. I’ve evolved from thinking that the EU is an anti-democratic joke to thinking, “For all its flaws, the EU is one of the world’s more stable and successful postwar structures. Maybe democracy isn’t as important as I thought it was.”

    I think the Czechs, Hungarians, Slovaks, and Romanians, all of whom just had thousands of refugees forced upon them with no say in the matter would disagree.

    The similarities between the EU and the open borders crowd in the US just hit me. The ability to regulate passage over its borders is one of the defining characteristics of a functional state. One that can’t do so because a more powerful state won’t allow it is a vassal.

    • #15

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