Thursday, March 05, 2009

On EU and Crisis.

It shouldn't really surprise anyone that an outsider is the best to analyse a given situation. So its not really surprising that an American, Max Bergman in the Huffington Post, has written the best comment I've read on the crisis that the EU countries are facing.

Bergman's main argument is that the EU has a political deficit, which makes is ill suited to respond the present financial and economic crisis. The EU countries have taken giants steps in integrating economically, legally and socially, but the political power still rests with the national governments. In spite of the rhetoric by the Euro-sceptics (Euro-haters would be a better term), the Commission is primarily an administrative executive and does not hold the political power in the EU. Unified action depends on the national governments reaching agreement, which is hard at the best of times.

While Bergman makes a fine analysis, he is, in my opinion, too alarmist. The fundamental freedoms of the Union, i.e. the freedom of movement for goods, workers, services and capital, are too firmly established in law and practice to be broken down by the economic crisis. This doesn't mean the EU and European integration not will be severely tried by the crisis. The EU is, however, functioning just as the EU is supposed to function, by integrating Europe economically and socially while leaving political power in the national governments. This may not be the best way for Europe to face the economic crisis, but if the Union had not existed then we'd now been back to the protectionist and 'beggar thy neighbour' policies of earlier times, such as trade/movement restrictions and currency devaluations.

P.S. For a more Euro-sceptic and alarmist comment see Simon Heffer in yesterdays Daily Telegraph. Heffer's critique of the monetary union may have some legitimacy, but its hard to take him, and other conservative euro-sceptics, seriously when he calls the EU an "undemocratic, Sovietised swindle".


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