The European Union has been evolving for 60 years, initially from a trade group, into a much larger conglomeration. Currently with 28 member nations, the Union has become more complex; however, I believe it still operates quite inconsistently.
Besides trade, the member nations have since relinquished a certain amount of political power to the E. U. governing body, the European Commission (ECM). Additionally, 19 countries share the common currency, the Euro. The European Central Bank (ECB) manages monetary policy for the Euro member nations; but, not the other nations which do not use the currency. Lastly, there is a movement afoot for the E. U. to assume some of the fiscal responsibilities of the member nations, as well.
It is hard to believe that the “Troika”—the ECM, the ECB, and the IMF—spent so much time and money keeping Greece, whose economy represents just 1.28% of the overall E. U, from leaving. Perhaps their real concern was in not setting a precedent for other member nations to leave the Union. In Greece’s case, that would be referred to as a “Grexit”.
More recently, U. K. Prime Minister David Cameron has negotiated several exceptions from standard E. U. membership rules; however, he didn’t get all that he had asked for. It’s important to note, however, that the U. K. GDP is the second-largest in Europe, representing 15.9% of the overall economy.
Accordingly, a British exit—a “Brexit”—would be much more damaging for the European Union, compared to Greece–and for the global financial markets, as well. For now, Mr. Cameron has called for a national referendum, in June, to enable all U. K. residents to vote on whether to leave the E. U. or not.
Throughout Europe, there has been a great deal of skepticism—both on the Left and the Right—regarding the creeping infringement of the E. U. upon time-honored rights and responsibilities of the respective nations. These various groups are called “Euro-skeptics”. Whether the reasons for discontent are economic, political or the current refugee situation, this truly is the: “Season of Europe’s Discontent”.
Consider the following inconsistencies in how the European Union operates:
1. Adopting a common currency, to be used by all members, was one of the original long-term goals. At present, however, I would not expect the other nine nations, which do not use the Euro, to join anytime soon—if ever.
2. Given the importance of each member nation’s economy to its own well-being, why would a country give any control whatsoever to either the E. U. or the ECB?
3. How can the ECB effectively manage one common monetary policy, which would meet the economic needs of 19 very different nations, let alone 28 members?
4. There are vast differences in some industries, such as the state of Digital Age Technology, even between assumedly industrial nations, such as Italy and Sweden. How could this imbalance ever be reconciled?
5. Prime Minister Cameron needed to receive the exceptions to the standard rules in order to gain the support of even his own Conservative Party to remain in the E. U. But, how is such favoritism perceived by other member nations?
6. Lastly, without any sort of enforcement process or powers, regarding the rules of E. U. membership, how can meaningful compliance possibly be expected?
Ultimately, how can the European Union ever expect to operate rationally, when it seems to be continually changing the rules to fit the circumstances? Presently, it seems to me that the E. U. is on the verge of permitting the inmates to take over the asylum!