by Jeff Thomas
20 July 2015
After World War II, many politicians talked about creating a united
Europe, much like the United States.
The idea was that there would be one
currency and a federal government that would act in much the same
way as does the federal government in the US. They began, very
sensibly, with trade agreements and slowly expanded.
Over the ensuing years, the national leaders of Europe steadily
pushed forward toward the major goal of a unified Europe under a
federal leadership. They reached this point with the
Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
My personal belief was that the concept would not succeed over the
long haul. Whilst trade agreements can be very beneficial for
European countries, the idea that Europe can be unified under a
single government and a single currency was, in my opinion, doomed
The United States was created primarily for the defence of the
thirteen American colonies, so that a minimalist central
government could protect all the colonies equally. Of course, as
soon as the idea was ratified, some political leaders began to try
to expand that centralized power.
The US federal government then grew, a
bit at a time, and eventually became dominant over the states.
Not so with Europe. The various European countries had been
around, in one form or another, for centuries and had
been based upon tribal groups. Each had its own language and its own
culture. Some were more prosperous and had a stronger work ethic
In addition, through historical conflicts, there was a decided lack
of trust between many countries. The Irish distrusted the English;
the English distrusted the French; the French distrusted the
The very idea that a Dane, a Dutchman and an Italian could agree on
an entire governmental and economic system was an impossibility from
the start. Their cultures and national perspectives were deeply
ingrained and would not change in a major way, simply because their
political leaders had come up with an idea that benefitted them.
However, the EU was on a roll, and around 2000, at a time when I
stated, "I'd give the EU twenty years at the outside," they may well
have been at their high point.
In the intervening years, all of the predictable problems have
surfaced, and as they have, the people of each of the EU countries
have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the union, whilst the
politicians of those same countries have done all they could to
paper over the problems to keep the EU ship from capsizing.
In recent years, Greece has held centre stage, as, even though it is
a small country with an equally small economy, it is a net recipient
of EU funding, due to its unfunded social programs, and is bleeding
the EU with no end in sight.
Conversely, the more northern EU countries, where the work ethic
is stronger, are footing the bill. For some time now, the
possibility of a Grexit has been on the cards, and recent
developments have suggested that it may be imminent.
Of course, the political leaders of the EU countries desperately
want to hold on to Greece, as a Grexit may well spark other exits,
beginning most probably with
Should that happen, the EU would be
And so, the EU is now way out on a limb,
far beyond what is safe for the people of Europe, in the hope of
keeping Greece on board.
Throughout the course of these developments, the citizens of the EU
have been relatively quiet, although the general mood has been one
of growing distrust for the union.
recent developments in the Greek tragedy
have riled them to the point that representations have been made to
their political leaders to consider their own exits.
Not surprisingly, the political leaders
have remained steadfast that that is out of the question.
Power to the People
Now that dam has suddenly burst.
In Austria, a country that is in
far better shape than most of the EU countries, 260,000 citizens
have signed a petition, requesting that the government leave the EU
and go off the Euro. (The threshold for a debate on a possible
referendum is 100,000.)
In Italy, another petition has been circulated, with similar
results, triggering some 200,000 signatures.
A referendum is planned for the UK, but no date has yet been
announced. (The political leaders, predictably, have been dragging
their feet for some time on setting the date.)
In France, Spain and Germany, there are similar
signs that the citizenries have reached a breaking point with the
failed experiment and want out.
And so, should we expect to see a breakup of the EU soon? Not
likely. Political leaders are extraordinarily adept at keeping a
virtual corpse on life support long after it was obvious to all and
sundry that the plug should have been pulled.
They do so because it allows them to
retain power and the perks that go with it.
However, it is not at all in the
interest of the citizenry to continue to pour money into a dying
union. Further, Europe's citizens have grown quite weary of the bad
marriage that their governments have entered into.
They're realizing that a divorce is
inevitable and should be dealt with soon to stem the flow
of red ink on their respective national balance sheets.
But a turning point has been reached.
From here on in, what we shall be
witnessing will be a groundswell from the citizenries of EU
countries, in clear opposition to their political leaders. And this
will occur in virtually every EU country before the game is over.
This is no small matter. As this separation of people and state
develops, in one country after another, much of the Grand
Illusion of the EU will fall away. It will become glaringly
clear that the union was created by the political
leaders for the political leaders and was never
intended to serve the citizenry of Europe.
The countries of Europe had large, costly governments prior to the
formation of the EU, a condition that was greatly exacerbated with
the additional cost of an
In years to come, we may look back and see this point as the one
where the tide turned for Europe, and the former EU countries once
again became a collection of neighbors, each in competition with the
other, each prospering or declining in keeping with its level of
work ethic and fiscal prudence.
To be sure, there will be those countries that will fail along the
way. Like drug addicts, they must first purge themselves of the
entitlements that were beyond what could have been funded.
As a result, they will,
first experience civil unrest
then frequent changes in
leadership, each without any real solution
then a long, slow recovery
Some may learn a valuable lesson; others
may simply return to empty promises of politicians and begin the
debt cycle over again.
In any case, a turning point has been reached with the EU. After it
does reach its end, we may see partnerships forming between some
former EU countries, but we are unlikely to see another EU