Why the European Union exists…
Being engaged in the free public debate you have to hear a lot of false assertions particular on the European Union. One of these came recently from George Friedman. In a piece titled; “The EU: Authoritarianism Through Complexity” he tried and failed to convincingly assert that; the EU through its complex laws is authoritarian. One could ponder if this also goes for complex US laws and regulations?
It is a bold—but false — assertion that possibly stems from lack of appreciation of what the European Union actually is. To answer this you must look at its history.
The early state of the European Union was initiated shortly after the devastating World War II which ended a prolonged period of wars and conflicts within Europe. It started as a measure to prevent the extreme authoritarian nationalism through cooperation and trade. This shared experience of the wars, conflicts and political unrest in the early 20th century is often under-appreciated. In many European families it is followed with rough personal war stories told by grandparents. Be it grandparents who put absurd amount of butter on sandwiches in good times to be prepared, engagement with foreign solders in your country or the sailor who always sleeps fully dress in the event of an attack.
The history of the European Union is even more multifaceted than two gruesome World Wars. Fore-instance while Western Europe lay the foundation to the post-war cooperation, the Spanish trapped in a fascists dictatorship, would have to wait until the fall of Francisco Franco in 1975 to start negotiations to join the European Union. Negotiations were started quickly after and Spain went from a dictatorship to democracy and joined the European Union in 1986 together with Portugal.
The Baltic and Visegrad countries continued to live under totalitarian systems until the fall of the Soviet Union and were finally able to join the European Union in 2004. Later Bulgaria, Rumania and Croatia joined. This search for security, peace and prosperity was — and still is — the foundation for European cooperation. Even-though it might seem banal and far away, one only have to go to the outskirts of the European Union to find exactly that, be it Turkey, Russia-Ukraine or the Balkans.
But it isn’t only expanding geographically, but also structural. Since the initial Treaty of Brussel in 1948 there have been dusins of new treaties enhancing the cooperation in trade, science, security, immigration, freedom and rights. The European citizen now have unprecedented guaranteed rights within the entire European Union. Historically speaking this journey is impressive and speaks of a European Union of visionaries who consistently improved the all areas of the European cooperation.
The European Union has always been changing, both structurally and geographically, and will continue to do so. When you observe the lively debate in European medias there is a willingness to European cooperation and change, even if it is difficult. Throwing this away — as the Brits have done — would be madness.