Future of the European Union
How Long Will It Last?
The European Union is facing increasing political, economic, and social problems. It seems as if the whole Union is starting to fall apart at the seams, with economic strains again giving rise to nationalist tendencies in many member states. This is only natural and by no means a reason to expect the whole structure to come tumbling down.
All unions have difficult times. However, unlike the US for example, Europe is a mix of different nationalities, religions, belief systems, historical experiences, languages, and goals that make consolidating a union neigh on impossible.
One example of a failed union is the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Although the whole communist structure was highly Russified, the various ethnic groups in the member states never forgot their own sense of self. No matter how hard the Russians attempted to make others forget their own languages, religion, and traditions, they did not succeed.
Many in Europe are starting to call the European Union the new USSR, with orders coming from a centralized bureaucracy in Brussels. These decisions affecting the whole Union are looked down upon by many as not taking into consideration local conditions and customs.
The Greeks in particular have become irate with Germany wanting to take over financial and economic control over their country because of their present condition. However, no matter how badly any one country's leaders mess up, none can be expected to look kindly upon another country coming in and taking control of any aspect of their national sovereignty. It is true that all EU countries have agreed to some degree of centralized decision making, but when this foreign influence becomes too obvious these countries will rebel.
Many see Germany as the powerhouse of the European Union. This powerhouse status has lead to accusations of a domineering mentality towards other EU states, especially to the poorer Eastern European and Mediterranean countries.
Obviously Europe has a lot riding on the success or failure of the European Union. Many right wing political parties throughout the continent are taking stronger and stronger anti-EU stances in an attempt to regain the control over their own destinies that they feel that they are losing or have already lost. A major concern is that many of these right wing parties are in member states who were once part of the Soviet Bloc. Many there feel that they had managed to gain their freedom from Soviet rule only to willfully put themselves under European rule.
As the economic crisis has deepened, so has disillusionment with the whole European Union. However, just as many more recent EU citizens are having second thoughts, many states still want to join, such as Serbia, Moldova, Croatia, Albania, Macedonia and Turkey. The larger the European Union gets, the bigger the strain.
The Schengen Agreement which has allowed for border checks to be done away with also has its pros and cons. Not having to stop at every border is a great convenience for travelers and for trade. However, it also means that human traffickers, drug smugglers, gun runners and terrorists only have to really worry about crossing one external border between an EU and non-EU state. After that they can go where they wish with much better chances of going un-found or undetected for longer periods of time.
Future of the EU
There are no easy answers as to what will happen to the European Union in the future. One thing is certain though, if the euro is given up or the EU starts breaking up as a Union, the US will not be able to avoid being affected. The failure of the European Union could well lead to even more civil unrest, civil wars, and wars between states. The European Union was established in hopes of making any future European wars impossible due to a high degree of economic interdependence. However, now that the economy is in shambles, ethnic, religious, and national tensions are coming to the fore.
This European experiment is yet to be played out. It remains to be seen whether the European Union can withstand the shocks to its foundations it is currently experiencing.