With today’s video I return to the topic of Europe for the first time in a while. The EU is something I take rather seriously. Those who remember how much I flipped out about Brexit know how seriously. This is surprising to many. What self respecting US conservative can be for the survival of the European Union? One who really doesn’t want to see US soldiers fighting in Europe again. There’s no question that the current EU, run from Brussels is an unaccountable, bureaucratic, overly socialist mess. But it’s a lot better than what came before it.
The EU wasn’t formally established until 1993, but it has its origins in the European Coal and Steel community, going back to 1951. I may not agree with the specific goals pursued, but the platform for unity and peace that the EU and its predecessor provided is undeniable. This has had positive security effects as well. People like to talk about NATO, but NATO is happy to welcome shaky dictatorships. It’s the EU that makes applicants jump through hoops and prove their democratic credentials. I laid all this out in a video a few years back…
Video Transcript after the jump…
Ladies and gentlemen Europe is running out of time. This is not the story we have been hearing lately. Things are supposedly great again. The Euro area is now expected to grow at The breakneck speed of 2.3% in 2018.
The turning point from almost a solid decade of crappy European news was an election that took place in France in April and May of 2017. There was a serious concern that Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale would win the election. Nationalist parties like Le Pen’s had been steadily gaining power throughout the EU, with the June 2016 Brexit vote being their greatest victory.
Nationalists running Poland or Hungary are one thing, but if the Euroskeptic le Pen had won in France, one of the EU’s two most important countries the show would probably have been over. Thankfully the very pro European Union Emmanuel Macron saved the day.
Macron gets a lot of good press and I understand why. If anything I think his accomplishment deserves more attention. The party he founded just a year earlier, En Marche, didn’t just beat Le Pen. It also blew France’s established two party system out of the water. Can you imagine how cool that would be in the US?
So Macron won the presidency. Then his party went on to win a parliamentary majority. And then, last fall, he managed to reform the labor market in a way that his three predecessors failed to do. Macron does give me a lot of hope. But there is another aspect to that election last May.
Marine Le Pen’s Party got 33% of the vote. Four years ago when her Party got 24.8% of the vote in European elections I was optimistic, even though many others were freaking out. I thought the nationalists couldn’t possibly do any better. Well they did.. People seem to have tuned out Le Pen’s steady March towards power. Macron is impressive. But he may also be the EU’S last chance in France.
And France’s election wasn’t the only one last year. In Germany everybody was pleased when their nationalist party only managed to become the third largest party in parliament, after almost tripling its vote. Austria’s nationalist party is now part of the governing coalition. Italy’s election next week is expected to result in more victories for anti-EU, or at least euroskeptical parties.
The return of economic growth has bought the EU some breathing room. But the Union is shaky, and there is less money to spread around in the post Brexit budget that is being negotiated this year. I guess what I am trying to say is that this break from crisis may be brief and it must not be squandered.
When people talk about the end of the EU, they act as if we are just talking about the end of an overly socialized bureaucratic mess. If that were true I certainly wouldn’t miss it. But we are also talking about the end of a force for stability and shared goals in Europe.
Stable, well established countries like France and Germany would likely be hurt economically by the end of the EU, but would otherwise probably be fine. For countries further from the core, however, EU failure is likely to be a much more serious issue. We are already seeing new rumblings in the Balkans and on the border WITH Russia to the east. And Spain is currently dealing with the resurgence of the Catalan independence movement. Which is what we will deal with next time.
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