The United States of Europe
Will there ever be a ‘United States of Europe’?
In the wake of the Second World War, there was a new movement to create unity between France and Germany- neighboring countries who represented opposite alliances in the war and were perhaps amongst the most affected by the deadly conflict. This movement would over the following decades take the form of the European Union, a union currently consisting of 28 member states. Considering that the 28 member states are spread all over the continent, together they represent around two dozen different languages, cultures ranging from Bulgarian to Irish and everything in between, and political views as varied as the history of the continent itself. Primarily meant to be a trade deal, the European Union in recent decades has transformed into kind of a Pseudo-sovereign state, with 22 of the 28 members having open borders and 19 of the members using a single common currency. If the EU is treated as a single country, then its GDP (nominal) of around €14,303 trillion makes it the largest economy in the world. These and some other reasons have resulted in many experts labelling the EU as ‘The United States of Europe,’ perhaps to illustrate similarities between the EU and the US federal structure composed of 50 states.
So, one might wonder as to how exactly has the EU been able to maintain its unity over the years. Well, as recent experience suggests, the answer to this might well be that it hasn’t.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past six months, then you must know about the UK’s shock exit from the the EU. Although, it hasn’t been put to paper yet, the move is supposed to be the biggest jolt in the union’s history as it now stands to lose its second biggest economic power. This however, as it seems more and more likely now, might not be the last of the referendums. Major European powers including The Netherlands, France and arguably even the UK have seen a recent surge in the popularity of Far-right wing leaders and go to polls next year. Thus, a Frexit or a Nexit might not seem like a far fetched idea, come next year.
But, perhaps the biggest talking point in Europe right now is the Migration crisis. Germany, a traditional EU powerhouse has overwhelmingly supported the arrival of refugees into continental Europe, granting asylum to over a million refugees in 2015 alone. On the other hand, some other member states have been lukewarm or even against accepting refugees, most notably Hungary. This and the recent terror attacks in France and some other parts of Europe, following which France temporarily reimposed border controls, have cast a doubt over the future of the Schengen zone.
In the past, the economic crisis in Greece has imposed a question on having a single currency. This coupled with the high unemployment rates means that most of Europe still hasn’t recovered from the recession of the last decade. Thus, the EU today, for the first time in its history faces a huge question mark over its very existence. At the same time, disbanding the EU would be as bad a decision as keeping it intact in its current form.
As the UK prepares to depart, during the course of the next two years, it would be interesting to see as to how the EU is restructured as member states get used to life sans Britain. For now, what we do know is that it won’t be The United States of Europe.
Writer: Anmol Singh
Editor: Raghav Grover