I came to London with a desire to understand the EU. Before I came to Europe I had heard about Irish unrest over the Lisbon Treaty and the propaganda I came across got me intrigued. Since coming to London I have been studying the EU. I have read a small book about it, watched the news unfold about the Lisbon Treaty, and become so fascinated by the Union that I am currently taking a class in the EU. Although my class is not over I have come across an ideological conflict between America, myself, the future of England, and the EU. I really can’t decide how I feel about the issue, but I’m going to deal with my confusion by writing.
In the basic sense of the word, the EU is a gradual federalization of Europe. Although most Europeans are sensitive to admit this, if they look into the future of the EU, they will see that the EU aims to become a “federal” state. In essence the Europeans are building a super state that will be able to compete on the world market with its single border and single currency. In a sense the EU is a brilliant economic policy to compete with diverse America/Canada, Russia, and China.
Although it is economically a brilliant idea it has an unsettling democratic deficit. The EU is controlled by a council of unelected leaders who make decisions for the entire continent. The leaders of the EU are 24 unelected officials who are not accountable to anyone. In a contentious analogy the EU is basically the Soviet Union model of a supranational-state applied to a western capitalist mold. Basically, unelected officials who appoint each other and ignore a congress of the people in a Supra-national amalgamation of states. (The Soviet Union did have a congress, but naturally it was ignored). The democratic deficit in the EU is a well known fact to all member states.
Here is where my opinion becomes exacerbated and uncertain by a stampede of conflicting ideals. Americans believe in federalism. (American states are similar to European nations under a federal Europe. They will maintain local control on small issues. However, the EU will eventually administer the regions of Europe and ignore the old outlines of the former states). We American federalists agree that we must sacrifice some of our regional sovereignty for the greater good. Our regions/states maintain some of their autonomy through “states rights”. Even though one state may have a law it doesn’t mean that the other states will have to have the same law. Inside of European countries the regions don’t have “states rights” because the regions are so small that they act independently on the world stage as a separate nation. So the conflict for me is the distinction between the European sense of autonomy or in the American sense “states rights”.
Autonomous European nations have done awful things to humanity. The Europeans are a very war-like people. (coming from an American this sounds hypocritical, however only overtly critical people feel compelled to delineate every person by the make of their passport. I don’t need to be defined as an American, just a human). So autonomous European nations could just lead to a re-emerging of nationalism’s ugly head. Nationalism gave Europe the wonders of WW1 and WW2. So for some the idea of forgoing nationhood for a federal mold would seem like a peaceful and adhesive idea among European nations that are thick with destructive nationalism.
At the same time, for centuries these nations have acted on their own accord. In many areas it is only because certain nations were able to maintain their unique culture that great innovations could occur. The nation state model of Europe is a vital part of the European way of life. Although I fear that their traditions could lead to nationalism, the diversity of each nation is worth protecting.
How will federalism benefit the Europeans? Federalism has made America very slow toward progress. Our obligation to have consent among most of the population, at times makes us unable to make certain changes that would please certain people. Since we must make concession for other people’s intrusive opinions some reforms that America need could not be passed. If Massachusetts and other northern states were in charge it is likely that more left wing reforms would have passed and same can be said for the other regions of America. In some ways America is held back by federalism.
So the conflict with myself is this, I dislike nationalism and I see Federalism as limiting and controlling. So what do I think of the European Union, I think I am confused. I’m just as confused as the people of England who are slowly being pulled toward federalism while they are blindfolded and grumpy about fronting the bill for all this centralist reform