It is plain to see how Europe’s ’union’ is falling apart in front of our eyes. And the EU only has itself to blame for this development.
Why is it that European countries are increasingly returning to nation-state thinking? It is obviously because they no longer trust the EU to make a positive contribution to their problems.
Over the past decades, Brussels has become synonymous with a distant bureaucracy that, despite its far-reaching competencies, is failing to find answers to Europe’s most pressing challenges. The EU has not made convincing progress on fighting the economic and monetary crisis. It is not showing a pathway out of the refugee and migration crisis. It has no attractive vision of where it wants to take the continent.
Out of this frustration comes the widespread desire to seek refuge in national solutions. In doing so, Europe may not be returning to a situation where war between neighbouring countries become a possibility. That, at least, seems something that Europe has fortunately left behind. But the peaceful spirit of co-operation certainly does not exist anymore either.
For the EU to survive this crisis of trust, there is only one option. It needs to respect the growing dissatisfaction with its institutions and stop its integration agenda. It may even be forced to turn back the clock and return some powers to its member states, such as the right to discriminate against other EU citizens when it comes to eligibility for benefits.
But such a strategic withdrawal might be a price worth paying for protecting some other features of European integration that are worth keeping.
Instead, what the EU is doing seems the complete opposite. Instead of a strategic withdrawal, European elites still want to push integration even further. They are unwilling to concede that such increased integration is responsible for precisely the backlash the EU is experiencing at the moment.
As ironic as it seems, it is the EU’s overreach that could turn out to be its own undoing.
And it could be the failure of the EU’s supranationalism that will trigger a widespread return of the nation-state.
Dr. Hartwich is right in his analysis about the failure of the EU, but he does not quite seem to realize that a return of the nation-state is not a bad thing - on the contrary! Unification, supranationalism and "empire" are the root causes of the problem, and the less of these there are, the better! And if the present nation-states are divided into even smaller units (an independent Scotland, Catalonia, Bavaria etc.) we will have a better Europe!