As a supporter of a strong EU, it would be interesting to hear from others, both in- and outside of Europe, what they think of this ongoing "experiment".
This "experiment" is the most important political event since the French Revolution. Besides "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité", the French Revolution brought us the modern national states. As a result we now have national anthems, national flags, national poets, national heroes, etc. History was revised on national perspectives (Copernicus was Polish or German? Columbus was Italian or Spanish?). Instead of kings fighting between them we've got whole "nations" destroying each other. The world wars are a direct consequence of organizing people into ethnic states.
We are trying now to undo the madness of the ethnic states. Unfortunately nationalism is on the rise again: Kosovo, Belgium, etc
A Europe without borders in the minds of the people is still in the future. Just one recent small example:
Anti-Nokia anger grows in Germany because Nokia decided to relocate a factory to Romania and Hungary (newer and poorer members of EU).
United Europe is still a dream!
I haven't decided if I can agree on that point. Although you are certainly correct in citing both Kosovo and Belgium, I am hoping that the former (together with the rest of what was once Yugoslavia) ) will find their place in time and that this is a learning process. and that the latter (Belgium) is more due to a nation construct which has been problematic from the start. On the other hand, extremist right activities have increased somewhat, at least it seems so if one believes diverse studies and press reports. But then again Mr. LePenne came and went without leaving much of a dent.
Nationalistic/religious differences (such as those in the former Yugoslavia) take many generations to heal. The analogy here in the UK would be that of Northern Ireland. The main requirement for the healing of such divides is, I believe, integration at an early age. The most significant influence, again in my opinion, is schooling. In NI the schooling of protestants and catholics is still largely sectarian and this leads to the existing divide being perpetuated and re-enforced.
As for nationalism in Europe as a whole..I think that the occurance of nationalistic movements (neo-nazis and national front in France, Germany, UK et al) is dependant on poverty (both educational and financial). Fascism and other extreme nationalism tends to thrive only in circumstances of poverty, and quickly withers when that poverty is removed. In Germany, for example, the neo-nazi movement owes much to the poverty which resulted as a result of reunification. In the UK, the National Front thrives only in areas of social deprivation and high immigration. I do not think that such extreme nationalist movements will ever attain sufficient support to pose a significant political problem PROVIDING that social inequality is kept to an acceptable level and regional poverty levels are addressed. The main problem might be mass immigration if it is handled badly. Here in the UK, for example, there has been a policy of directing migrants to areas which are already fairly deprived (largely because the wealthier areas have better political clout). This is a recipe for disaster.
To this end I am a supporter of the whole EU experiment and I believe it is ultimately a force for good.
I would say it is too early to tell
EU is a great thing. Yes, we lose our soverignity, but we promote unity.
If only it can be applied to the rest of the world...
A similar situation can be observed here in Germany, although the "direction" of immigrants to certain areas (and occupations or lack thereof) is based more on their lack of acceptance (and the bigotry) of the local population. Regrettably, not much is being done in that respect, although now would be exactly the right time. since there are yet no "ghettos" as in some other European cities, but we are getting there.
On the rest of your post I can only nod agreement and I always enjoy hearing pro-EU statements from the UK since I have quite a few online-friends in Britain and to a man / woman they are very critical of the EU and we always tend to have fierce chats on that subject. The EU-critics in the UK seem very vocal anyway, at least that is the impression from this side of the channel .
Labour in general is reasonably pro-Europe and the Tories are pro-business and anti everything else (social charter, human rights convention etc). Lib-dems are very pro-Europe but will never get into power.
It is nice to have the European Union (from a foreigner's viewpoint!, as I explain below)
Before the days of the EU, travellers had to get visa for each country they planned to visit. Thanks to the EU and the related Schengan visa, it is possible to travel throughout the EU with a single visa, making it very simple for foreign tourists
thats a quite simplified picture. World wars have many explenations. Many of them are economical and class-related. I would say that capitalism requires states and different social classes. The crisis and unstability in the capitalist society have a big part in the creation of the need of war. The EU won't change that.
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I'd be intrested to hear your critique.
No, it's not simplified at all. The main cause of both world wars was Germany becoming a national state (before the second half of the nineteenth century there were many little German states). And I never said there weren't other causes.
As regards the "crisis and unstability in the capitalist society"... LOL
I like the EU. I think there are very much country's with problems whene the EU quit.
I believe of course the EU is a "coin with two sides". As seeing it from a Norwegian perspective (inside Europe, but outside the official EU, yet still "inside" thanks to EEA. Complicated, I know...)
EU is good for many things, as trying to make countries equal, and making it a lot simpler to cross borders. But with one central way of ruling, how can you know what's best for a whole area. Europe is actually quite large, and each and every country and piece of land got their own difficulties. What seems fit in Germany might not give the same good results in the south of Spain, or Finland for that matter.
In a perfect world, where all people was listening to eachother this might be a good way of forming some sort of Utopia. But these days people are too proud, or too stupid, to really see where their decisions are heading.
If you had stated that the creation of the German Empire 1871 was a prerequisite for World War I, I might even agree up to a point, but making it the "main cause for both world wars" is more than oversimplification, it's simple incorrect, in my opinion.
The causes of the first world war are complex and intertwined: from nationalism and disputes in colonial matters, unsolved problems within the continent dating back to the Franco-Prussian War and beyond that, to an arms race between the major powers, a complex but fragile system of alliances and any number of misunderstandings and incorrect expectations of what an opponent would do.
I would say that the major reason for the second world war was the treatment of Germany after WW1. The Treaty of Verseilles was a disaster from just about every perspective. It angered the Germans, ruined the German economy and surrounded Germany with a lot of new, weak, small nation states which were easy prey.
One of Hitler's most populist policies was the promise he made to tear-up the treaty.
David Lloyd George (British PM after WWI) said of the Treaty of Verseilles
If you like that you can only buy the same thing in every country... I don't.
The EU can't become a "US of Europe" until/ unless it standardizes on a single language. For University educated elite, that is already becoming English, the lingua-franca of the world, and the way Indians will speak with the Chinese.
I would prefer a Swiss style super-confederation of smaller city-state cantons, so if Belgium disappears into Wallonia and Flanders, that would be fine.
The "nation-state" is primarily a language-based idea, in today's Europe. As such it still makes sense.
I'm not so sure about the need for pan-European regulations on every ingredient in every type of cheese -- I'm pretty sure this is regulation over-reach from value-subtracting over-paid bureaucrats.
...to a close-knit organization, but still respectful of national laws and borders.
Collaberation is very important in this world which is getting smaller every day. Unity and stabilty is allways good anyway.
However it's realy important to keep Europe's identity. Such a small piece of land devided in such a eclectic collection of countries, cultures, habits, arts and traditions.
I think its a waste of making a one europe with central governement, and legislation. Differences are beautifull, especially if they respect eachother. This is the situation right now and hope it will last for centuries.
What do you mean:
There is no "European" identity, only various nation-states: Germany, France, Slovakia.
Then you say:
Well, the single country of India also has many cultures, arts, habits, and languages, as well as 2+ times as many people, as the EU.
The problem is that the ruling elites want more power, and are using EU central gov't to get it.
Gov't power is based on violence; most normal people's choices are based on peaceful, voluntary agreements. The more power the gov't has, the more decisions are based on force, the less are the decisions based on peace.
Some decisions, like justice for criminals, require some force. But enforcing standards on cheese -- there is no need for a central gov't to do that. Or for most of the regulations the elites are pushing.
On the Lisbon Treaty, not quite Constitution, who here who is "for" it has actually read it? I think it's OK to be against it, without reading it, but that those who favor it should be reading it and justifying the worst parts.
I could justify the US Constitution -- most principles. Not the EU pages and pages of laws, so that everybody is a "criminal" (violating some law!), and it is up to the police to decide which laws to enforce.
I like the EU, I don't really care if I'm Welsh, British, European or whatever. I care only that the rights and freedoms I have are shared for everyone and that I live in a just and fair world.
The EU will hopefully stop us all fighting amongst ourselves for a third time with any luck, and living under a greater umbrella organization will hopefully take away some of the racism and xenophobia that has been far too prevalent in our history.
The freedom to travel and work all over Europe definitely improves our lives, and so what if richer nations contribute more than others (like the UK), if this helps drag porer nations into a better standard of life it makes me happy that we've been a part of making it happen.
Oh, and as for if I'm spending Pounds or Euros, does it really matter as long as I've got enough of them to buy what I need for a happy life!
Ha, ha, what a laugh -- the EU couldn't even stop Serbia and genocide in ex-Yugoslavia.
Free trade between EU countries is great, along with free movement of people. And expanding the borders, as long as the new countries really do follow EU laws and rights for minorities.
I'm not sure Bulgaria and its corruption really makes it, but hopefully getting it into the EU sooner means there is more pressure to conform.
Most general EU rights are great. What's terrible are EU specific regulations, like on cheese.
Impact of nationalism is so deep that it may not be possible in near future for european nations to unite and one politcal entity.