Is The European Union Headed For An Untimely End?

Posted by Gulshan Jha in GlobeScope, Politics
May 17, 2017

The European Union (EU) is an amalgamation of the political and economic union of 28 countries that are located in Europe. The EU has developed its own currency, parliament, market, foreign policy and political strategy.

The EU is a result of numerous consecutive treaties like the Treaty of Rome and the Treaty of Maastricht. It was a product of George C Marshall and his Marshall Plan, in which the United States gave European countries economic aid of over $13 billion. It was done so that the European countries could rebuild their economies which were facing a severe crisis in the aftermath of World War II. The US also wanted to win these countries over to its side because of the threat of communism from the USSR.

With the help of the United States and its financial aid, the EU has established an economic, political, culture and strategic stronghold in the region. The EU could also be effective in dealing with superpowers like the US and China. The UK and France wield veto power in the United Nations. The EU has strong ties to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and also influences World Trade Organisation (WTO) policies.

Working with the idea of Europe as a unified country, the EU has made its own unified market that is based on free trade in the region. The idea of a single currency became the next emboldened step towards unification of its members. It makes the dream of one currency in one region possible. It was the EU which survived the era of the Cold War with dignity. The EU is very powerful not only in terms of policy-making but also in the defence sector.

Now, in the last five years, the EU has been losing its members as well as its influence on others institutions. Its members, like Britain and France, have made various accusations against the EU. There have also been accusations that the money the EU receives has been going elsewhere instead of being spent as per their intended purpose. But countries like Britain and France have forgotten that without the EU, they could not survive in the world of US – China hegemony.

French far-right politician Marine Le Pen who is hostile to the EU. (Image Credit: Global Panorama/ Flickr)

But there are real problems. It is easier for small countries like Greece, Spain and Turkey to export to big countries like Britain, France and Germany but it is tough for the bigger countries to sell their products to small countries because no country is willing to invest their money in a small consumer dominated region. That is why some countries see the EU’s free trade policy as hampering their own development.

Brexit has been the biggest catastrophe for the EU. It has devastated the European Union’s dream of one Europe. Now, there have been speculations about ‘Frexit‘ – France’s exit from the EU – that could be disastrous for the European Union. In the current scenario, people seem to be rejecting the EU doctrine of integration and development. The emergence of leaders such as Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and Boris Johnson is making it difficult for the European Union.

Even though there is a severe crisis in the European Union, it is doing its best to make sure that the European Union remains united. The EU has been trying to solve these conundrums and tackle the recent anti-EU sentiments. We can understand the EU’s efforts from the recent Greece crisis. The EU has been trying to save itself from collapsing. Now, the EU has to decide how it wants to see itself – whether as a unified organisation or a failed institution.

Not only do they need to work on the anti-EU sentiments, they also have to repair their current structure and assure its members of a better future. The European Union should not forget how the USSR broke down. It should follow the path of India, which has stood as a unified and pluralistic country since independence.

The EU must focus on negotiation and diplomatic talk. And its members should understand that they can’t live without a pressure group or organisation. Europe needs to acknowledge that they are living in dangerous times. A split in the EU could allow China to manipulate countries to come on to their side. US President Donald Trump’s support of Brexit is dangerous, both for the EU, as well as for the US.

Image Credit: Theophilos Papadopoulos/ Flickr