Tuesday, July 20, 2010

European Disunion. Is the EU Experiment Failing?

Can the European Union survive or is it doomed to become another failed experiment?

Europe increasingly appears to be fracturing along a north-south line. In an item called "PIIGS to the Slaughter, Asia Times' Spengler says northern Europeans have about had it with the south:

"To paraphrase a Wall Street adage: bulls make money, bears make money, and PIIGS get slaughtered. Of course I'm referring to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Germany won't bail them out again.

Germans work. The country's unemployment rate stands at 7.5%, against an average of 13% for Europe's so-called PIIGS. Those are heavily massaged estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). More revealing is a comparison of youth unemployment, now at 10% in Germany. By contrast, as Doug Saunders observed in the July 16 Globe and Mail, "The under-30 unemployment rate in Spain has just hit 44 per cent, twice the adult rate. Italy also has passed the 40 per cent mark, and Greece has gone even further. If you count all the people who've given up looking, it means the number of people between 20 and 30 who have any form of employment in these countries is something like one in five."

...Thrifty, hard-working Germans in May bailed out dissolute, corrupt, feckless, spendthrift and lazy Greeks, Spaniards, Italians and Portuguese. That, at least, is how it appears to the German public. The German term welsch refers to anyone from lands to the east or south of Germany. Martin Luther quoted the proverb Deutsche Treue, welsche Tucke, or "German honesty, welsche perfidy". The German word for "gibberish" is Kauderwelsch, that is, trader's pidgin from France or Italy.

... Failing demographics underlying an expensive welfare state make the European Union (EU) a failing proposition. It is a loser's game in which the most benefits accrue to the weakest, and that is a game that Germany simply cannot afford to play. Politically, the EU is the child of the Cold War, bringing the European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into a free-trade zone and eventually a currency union. America's strategic mistakes under the George W Bush administration and strategic withdrawal under the Barack Obama administration have left Germany with less political reason to adhere to Europe.

Another voice predicting hard times ahead for the European Union is Gwynne Dyer. He sees global warming as driving the wedge between the temperate north and Europe's increasingly distressed Mediterranean south. In Dyer's view, the northern countries may have little appetite for the burden of helping the south, sharing water, and absorbing masses of climate migrants from Greece, Italy, Spain and southern France.

1 comment:

double nickel said...

I've never gone wrong listening to Dyer yet.