As the final date of Brexit approaches at the end of this month, Britons are getting more jittery and confused upon what kind of a deal their government will be able to extract from the EU and how that would affect them economically within the EU, and in terms of their political status with close neighbours like Ireland, with the EU and with the wider world.
The House of Commons itself is at loggerheads, every MP seems to be on his/her own, with Theresa May being unable to bring them round to her proposed deal, that would, according to May, allow Britain an honorable exit from the EU.
The EU’s stance with Britain has been a stern and cold one, but this is not just because it’s unhappy with Britain, several other states that have faced bankruptcy and extreme recessions in the passing decades, pose as potential exiters from the EU.
Once Britain sets an example of leaving the EU with ease, others may start falling in a domino-effect. Perhaps, for this reason, the EU needs to make Britain’s exit as hard as possible, so that others are discouraged.
The question of Brexit and the possible exit of other states from the EU calls for exploring the historical foundation of the EU as a uniting force in Europe and the factors that endanger its unity.
The history of Europe’s disunity is an old one. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe had been drenched in blood, fire and furry. There were wars that kept grinding the common people of Europe in a never-ending chain of misery and death.
When the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery were lighting the lanterns of hope in some parts of Europe, Central Europe was plunged in the Thirty Years’ War that killed eight million people; and Spain and its northern colonies were fighting the Eighty Years’ War wherein more than 800,000 were slain.
All this came to a downtrend only with the Treaty of Westphalia (1864) whereby the thought of sovereign states was laid down in Europe. This same thought ripened into the idea of nation states. But ‘nation states’ was again an idea that divided the Europeans along their ethnicities and nativities — not an idea of unity.
It is interesting to note that an utterly divided Europe that had eventually found resolve in permanently dividing itself on the lines of language and culture would then conceive the idea of a complete union of Europe.
At the end of WW2, at the same time when national boundaries were being strengthened, Europe was able to conceive the idea of a United Europe and even beyond that a unity within the whole White/Christian world at the Hague Congress, in 1648. In the Congress, the ‘European Movement International’ and the ‘College of Europe’ were founded.
The College of Europe was founded with “a spirit of solidarity and mutual understanding between all the nations of Western Europe and to provide elite training to individuals who will uphold these values” and “to train an elite of young executives for Europe”.
Therefore, with all their history of discord and barbarity behind them, Europe was being readied for this re-birth of unity. The Economist described this college as “an elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats”, who would maintain an aristocracy upon the pretended democratic EU.
Coming to place in 1993, the EU aspired to unite its 27 White/Christian member states into a single currency, a single trade, a combined foreign policy, and a military alliance. But from the very onset, the EU seemed to lack the subjectivity that unites a people in essence. But the idea — that becoming one economic unit would make Europe an invincible economic might and would urge the members to stick together — did not actually work.
It is no secret that several EU members have faced the worst financial crisis in the passing decade. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus, all have collapsed into severe sovereign debt crisis. Others like Slovenia, Slovakia and the Netherlands have faced devastating political turmoil as they face economic crisis of their own.
Yet the EU boasts of being the second largest economy in the world in terms of GDP and PPP. But then why so many states have suffered tells us something about the internal chemistry of the EU. It has acted like the Ouroboros — the creature that has been eating its own tail to survive.
In its formulation, the EU had decided that in order to make the euro a successful currency, the states will ensure limiting their deficit spending and debt levels. To maintain a clean face, governments were allowed to pump in billions of dollars in the name of ‘security’ — from EU banks and organisations — and many times sold their sovereign rights and assets in return.
Like in the case of Greece, it was allowed to keep buying from German industry while the banks kept giving them new ‘securities’, to that point that today Germany would virtually be owning all of Greece’s assets just to balance out. In fact, Germany has become Europe’s biggest economy again — a fact that would bring bitter memories to the French and the British who had done everything possible to keep these people suppressed after the WWs.
So, why would Britain — that has come all the way from being a major empire controlling 23% of the world population and 24% of the land, in 1913, to a flag bearer in the EU — choose to exit the EU to a disgraceful isolation that may even snatch Scotland away from it? Perhaps Germany is one of the reasons.
The EU framework hasn’t served anyone more than Germany, and perhaps it will be impossible for Britain to get ahead of Germany or even France, staying inside the EU. Perhaps in foresight, Britain is not ready to be eaten up by the Ouroboros in the long run!
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2019.