What happened to the United States of Europe?

European Union

Image by erjkprunczyk via Flickr

Commentators in the United States of America are quick to denounce the experiment that is the European Union. Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post calls the creation of the Euro a “colossal blunder“. Over at the Wall Street Journal, Martin Feldstein opined that the recent euro-zone summit was a “double failure“.

So why don’t we have a United States of Europe? Unlike the USA, the European Union was not created to fight an overlord that taxed and decreed from afar. It was formed to eliminate trade barriers, and allow free movement of people and capital between member nations. Each member of the EU still has its own foreign policy and treaties with non-member countries. The union has no constitution that lays the foundation for governance and no method of electing representatives to its commission or parliament. It is not really a union at all, but a set of treaties that makes rules for member nations to follow.

The current world economic problems have threatened the cohesiveness of this union. Nationalism is back in vogue as citizens from economically responsible countries rail against the undisciplined bastards. It doesn’t help that there are 23 official languages in the 27 member union. It also doesn’t help that many members are still suspicious of old World War II enemies. This all helps divide the continent against itself.

In order for this experiment to succeed, the members must pull together and decide on standards for membership. Restricting deficits by the euro-zone members is not enough.  The entitlements that vary between countries will have to be governed by the union. Taxes that pay for entitlements will have to be forwarded to the union. Benefits for retirees will have to standardized and paid by the union. A representative government needs to be formed within the union. Barriers to a sovereign unity must be broken.

 

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