The European Union, which is founded by the EU countries with great hopes, has been going through probably the most troublesome period since the Cold War. Terror attacks, refugee problems, economic crises and the possibility of the United Kingdom’s separation from the Union are dragging the European Union into tough sledding.
France and Germany, the two strongest members of the Union, had embarked on a very important collaboration under the leadership of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle. The fundamental rationale was that France was to manage the new political structuring in Europe, while West Germany was to support the economic development. Set off on such a journey, the Economic Community had worked its way through key issues such as establishing visa-free travel and shared currency. Approximately 40 years ago, this community constituted 40% of the world economy as a whole.
However, French citizens voted negatively with regards to a European Union Constitution in the referendum held in 2005. The Netherlands followed them with the same response. In light of these developments three member nations, Finland, Slovakia, and Germany, decided to cancel their partially completed plebiscite processes. Afterwards, seven member nations also postponed the voting processes to an undetermined date. Thus the European Union suffered a significant blow to its structure.
This depression was followed by the 2007 economic crisis. As the gap between the industrialized North European countries spearheaded by Germany, and the poorer Southern European countries grew larger, European Union aids towards weaker states gradually started drawing reactions. Nations like Greece and Spain came to the verge of bankruptcy.
The start of the 2011 civil disruptions, namely the Arab Spring first became known with small-scale demonstrations and marches. Soon after the Arab people raised their voice demanding democracy, freedom and human rights. This time, riots, clashes and civil wars erupted in various countries. As a result of this, and especially due to the Syrian civil war, the refugee crisis started affecting European countries. Hundred of thousands innocent civilians trying to escape the war began to enter Europe through various channels and take refuge in the European countries. Each European country reacted differently to this situation. While many nations justified rigorous measures, razor wire barriers and raising walls, German Chancellor Merkel preferred warmer and embracing policies towards these people in Germany.
Finally, the United Kingdom is likely getting ready for a referendum by the end of June this year. This referendum may generate consequences that may lead to its termination of its European Union membership. On one hand the Prime Minister David Cameron is working hard to convince the British people into staying in the Union, while requesting certain concessions from the European Union based on the public’s demands, while on the other these demands contradict the foundational building blocks of the European Union. While UK’s denial of Euro to maintain its own English Pound has already caused enough troubles, the other European Union member states are not taking very kindly to the current demands. The EU’s not meeting these demands may cause the United Kingdom’s separation from the union. The UK is the third largest economy in the Union; yet with regards to the decision-making procedure, it is supposed to confer on even the smallest Union member. Such details have led the UK to demand various revisions within the framework of the European Union.
Other factors such as cultural conflicts and disintegration of faith between the northern Protestant nations and the southern mostly Catholic nations are playing a divisive role. In addition the fact that there are 24 different languages spoken among a population of close to 500 million, mixed with demographic variety, and that only 19 out of 28 member states are using the shared currency, are also presenting challenges and difficulties to the European Union today.
All of these developments naturally culminate in this question: Is the European Union falling apart?
Comments on this topic are usually geared towards the extreme difficulty for the maintenance of the Union in this manner. For instance, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz expressed the disintegration risk of the European Union to the German Die Welt newspaper, and stated,1 “No one can predict whether the EU will exist 10 years from now.”
According to the US based think tank Stratfor’s “Decade Forecast: 2015-2025” report, which contains predictions oriented towards what will happened in the world between 2015-2025, the survival of the European Union seems quite difficult. The report speculates,2 “The European Union entered a crisis that it could not solve and that has increased in intensity. We predict that the European Union will never return to its previous unity, and if it survives it will operate in a more limited and fragmented way in the next decade.”
Expressing similar thoughts Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, says 3 that the future of the European Union is in danger, and the union may fall apart.
The European Union is a good community built with great difficulties, and we would never want to see such a great union to fall apart. The most crucial precaution against the disintegration the European Union would be popularizing love while making it the basis for social policies. It will be much better to strengthen solidarity, and eliminate complications rather than to allow the Union to fall apart. The most important duty that befalls on the statesmen as well as the people is to stay away from aggressive tones, hatred and anger, egoism and selfishness, while paying attention to loyalty and fidelity. We should never forget the fact that the dominant underlying factor of the economic problems in the world and in Europe is egoism and selfishness. Sectors who are in a constant state of discontent are freezing the cash flow with a “just in case” approach, the money in circulation is withdrawn to the banks or under the mattresses, and as a natural consequence economies are suffering. The principle solution to this problem would be to integrate commerce with love, camaraderie, and trust. An agile, active, flexible life that is far from selfishness will bring success and happiness in the economy, as well as in politics. With the recovery of spiritual joy, breakthroughs will happen again in every field, while the people of the European Union will attain the prosperous life they have been looking forward to.
Adnan Oktar's piece in American Herald Tribune: