Brexit - Fragmentation of the European Union

The founding principle of the EU was the unification of hitherto warring nations into a single bloc. But now the EU is moving toward an existential crisis. It may survive, but only as a coalition of nations representing a fraction of Europe. But that European identity was an illusion

Nigel Farage bei seiner letzten Sitzung im Europaparlament / picture alliance


George Friedman ist einer der bekanntesten geopolitischen Analysten in den Vereinigten Staaten. Der 67 Jahre alte Politologe leitet die von ihm gegründete  Denkfabrik Geopolitical Futures und ist Autor zahlreicher Bücher. Zuletzt erschien „Flashpoints – Pulverfass Europa“ im Plassen-Verlag.

So erreichen Sie George Friedman:


Diese englischsprachige Kolumne erscheint regelmäßig auf Cicero Online in Kooperation mit der Denkfabrik Geopolitical Futures.

At the end of this week, the United Kingdom, the second-largest economy in Europe, will exit the European Union. Meanwhile, Poland is under intense attack by the bloc for violating EU regulations by attempting to limit the independence of Polish judges; Hungary is also under attack for allegedly violating the rule of law; and one of the major parties in Italy has toyed with the idea of introducing a parallel currency that would allow the country to manage internal debt without regard for EU regulations and wishes.

The founding principle of the EU was the unification of hitherto warring nations into a single bloc, built around common economic and political principles and a common European identity. The assumption was that given Europe’s history, putting aside differences was a self-evident need for all European countries. But as we see in the case of Italy, it is not clear that there is a common European economic interest. Given the tensions with Poland and Hungary, it’s also unclear if there is a common political interest. And the U.K.’s decision to leave also raises questions over whether these common interests persist and whether national identity can be subsumed under a European identity. The tensions within the EU do not reflect marginal disagreements; they represent fundamental questions over whether national interests and identities can be reconciled with poorly defined European interests. The EU, therefore, is moving toward an existential crisis. It may survive, but only as a coalition of nations representing a fraction of Europe.

Self-Determination or Nothing

The fundamental issue is national identity and sovereignty. The U.K., Italy, Poland and Hungary are all European nations, but they have different histories and therefore different sensibilities. What it means to be Italian is not the same as what it means to be British. They in turn have a different sense of self from the Germans or Romanians. The question, therefore, is: What is this European sensibility? The common assumption is that it is liberal democracy. The problem is that there are many types of liberal democracy and, more to the point, the fundamental principle behind liberal democracy is national self-determination – the idea that the nation must select the government and that the government is answerable to no one other than the nation. If you sever the idea of national self-determination from liberal democracy, you undercut liberal democracy’s fundamental principle and, with it, the European identity. Liberal democracy is national self-determination or it is nothing.

The governments in the U.K., Italy, Poland and Hungary all have been elected. Some politicians who were defeated in elections have made the claim that these elections were the result of fraud or illegitimate manipulation of public opinion, as was the case with the Brexit vote. But the fact is that those of us who know these countries know that the views the governments hold are not alien to the countries. Poland and Hungary have their own understanding of what state power should look like; Italy has a long history of complex and fragmented government needing to control its own economy; and the United Kingdom’s constituent parts have national identities that are very different from those of other countries.

Europe’s nations are all different, and while history made each adopt the garb of liberal values beyond just national self-determination, they never gave up their own identities because they could not. They are what history made them, and while German or Soviet occupation shaped them, a few decades of horror – and the adoption of the idea that national self-determination must be determined through elections – was not enough to cause them to abandon who they were. France was France before it held its first election. In other words, national identity may exist prior to and outside of liberal democracy for some countries. This is not the case for the United States; its very identity from its founding was liberal democratic. German identity, however, has varied dramatically over the decades, and Germans were still German in spite of the variations. Hitler represented the national will well after he abandoned elections.
This takes us to extreme places we need not go, but it also points out that national identity and national self-determination can be expressed in ways that are faithful to the national will but violate the liberal democratic methodology in nations with ancient and complex foundations.

The Illusion of European Identity

If the idea of national identity is so complex, then how can we define the European identity? The European identity that the Maastricht treaty embodied was a snapshot of a unique moment in European history in which the Anglo-American occupation of Western Europe and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe were ending. The liberal democracy that was imposed on Germany’s destroyed cities seemed to be part of German identity, history notwithstanding. The Poles and Hungarians yearned to be Europeans, and the liberal democracy that emerged from World War II was their template, as it was for Italy.

But I would argue that that European identity was an illusion to which Europe clung, fearing that the only alternative was a return to its own bloody past. After the Berlin Wall came down, there finally appeared to be one Europe, and all would be gathered into it. The problem, as I have said, is that the histories of Italy, Germany, the U.K., Poland and Hungary were all wildly different. At that moment, they all yearned for the same thing, but as the moment passed, each country recollected what it was, and they are now – without the shame it would have brought in 1991 – resurrecting it. The European invention of technocratic liberalism was alien to them, and the right of national self-determination was both an empirical reality and a moral principle.

And so they begin to go their own way, with EU officials hurling threats and condemnation over frustration that the EU bureaucracy is not only no longer authoritative but also no longer frightening. The British economy grew in January, an indication that the catastrophe Brussels had wished for the U.K. may not visit London, or Italy, if it should decide to go its own way with its currency. And certainly, neither Poland nor Hungary, having survived Stalin and Hitler, is likely to be cowed into submission by increasingly small EU subsidies. The weakening of the EU has undercut its ability to pay for conformity.

Europe once had a magnificent idea, a free trade zone called the European Economic Community whose main focus was trade, not inventing identities. It was replaced by the European Union, but the EU can now look to another example, the North American trade zone, which has a slightly larger gross domestic product than the EU. The two are fundamentally different; the North American bloc does not claim to represent a North American identity, its members sometimes dislike each other intensely, and it does not have a secretariat to dictate how they should live. But then, the North Americans did not live through what the Europeans lived through and they are not trying to suppress who they were and, of course, still are.

Karsten Paulsen | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 16:30

Man muss sich nur einmal dieses Video über den letzten Auftritt Nigel Farages im EU-Parlament anschauen, als die Abgeordneten die kleinen England Fähnchen heausholten. Die Reaktion der Vorsitzenden war beschämend kleingeistig und ohne irgendeine Art von Humor oder Mitgefühl. Diese Kurze Szene war war das Destillat des gesamten überheblichen EU-Apparatschiks. Ich bin mit Sicherheit auch kein EU-Bürger.

Hannibal Murkle | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 03:22

In reply to by Gast

U.a. deswegen gehen die Briten ja - die EU-Nomenklatura hat sich ähnlich der im mir bekannten Sozialismus 1.0 vom Leben einfacher Bürger entfernt. Wie die "Welt" mal berichtete, es wird vom "globalen Führungsanspruch" geträumt - erreicht durch massive Förderung der Klimaindustrie auf Kosten unseres Wohlstands. Noch nicht mal die autoritären Regierungen in China oder Russland leisten es sich, die Fragen nach dem Wohlstand und den Kosten so verhement zu ignorieren.

Gerhard Lenz | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 11:56

In reply to by Gast

Your comment, and in particular your mostly toxic rhetoric show me that you know less than nothing about the political Europe. Russia and China with their irresponsible climate policy and even more so their constant abuse of human rights care more about the living conditions and needs of the inhabitants of a community of democratic elected states?
Ah, I see, you have learnt that in the German Democratic Republic...So, back then, the SED was always right? And what's it today? The AfD is always right?

Rob Schuberth | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 19:25

In reply to by Gast

Stimme Ihnen zu.
Die EWG u. die EG waren ja ok.
Klare Zielsetzung u. frei von jeder Ideologie.

Aber die EU, gerade mit ihrem aktuellen Kurs hin auf eine total vereinte Union (ein Staatenkonglomerat), mit Aufgabe der Nationalitäten, ist totaler Murks.

Das ist das ideologisch erdachte Ziel ganz Weniger, die allerdings mit Macht in Brüssel ihr "zu Hause" gefunden haben.

Man sollte Brüssel abwickeln, oder zumind. stark schrumpfen.
Und sich nur noch auf wirtschaftliche u. Umweltschutzint. beschränken.
Alles andere sollten die Länder der EU wieder für sich entscheiden dürfen.
Genauer gesagt, die Bevölkerungen dieser Länder.

denn sehr viel wurde ihnen von den Fantasten (pardon einigen Politikern) übergestülpt.

Mit abenteuerlichen Deals.
Nach dem Motto: Du willst die Wiedervereinigung, dann aber nur, wenn ich den Euro bekomme. Wie es ihn zw. France u. D gab.

Gerhard Lenz | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 11:30

In reply to by Gast

It is a sheer and unbelievable hypocrisy to blame the President of the Parliament for Farage's scandalous behaviour. The far-right populist misused the last moments of the British presence in the parlamant for some nationalist propaganda show. It is easy to imagine how the very same Farage had reacted if, for example, the Scottish Nationalists would behave in a similar way in the UK parliament - he would most likely accuse them of having committed treason.
At the same time, Nigel did not hesitate to pocket a sumptious salary and enjoy other priviliges of this job as a parliament member. Needless to say, the same is true of Meuthen and his AfD, Le Pen and her Front National, and other far-right extremists and populists. There are other ways to show protest, genuinely: The Irish Sinn-Fein regularly participate in British elections, but reject seats (and coresponding renumeration) they regularly win because they object British presence in NI. Farage? Simply lacking character...

If Farage, Meuthen or Le Pen want to materially change the constitutional and institutional order of the EU - in order to organize a Confederation, or leave the EU in the case of Farage - then they have to be inside the political institutions and nor just outside the door. A seat in the so-called EU-parliament has the great advantage that the MEPs can largely do what they want, and when and where they want to do it. In addition, they have generous budgets at their disposal with which, for instance, Manfred Weber rented a satellite office in his Bavarian home and maintained a second official car there. Freude schöner Götterfunken.

I don't know where you found all that revealing information about Manfred Weber, but I would bet that they are completely false.
Furthermore, Farage and the like are not interested in change,let alone making a better or any kind of meaningful, alternative politics. All they want is destruction. Therefore, it is a shame that they enjoy their admittedly comfortable position to carry out their destructive sabotage with the intension to paralyse the European Parliament - an institution that houses hundreds of members that act on behalve of the European citizens, and of course are being paid by the European people. But that is presumably part of their plan: trying to obstruct and at the same time showing the European citizen that their money is being wasted. Truly mendacious.

Bernhard K. Kopp | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 14:33

In reply to by Gast

The Weber-story can be googled, and can also be found in German media, Bild, Spiegel, Zeit, among others. Disqualifying my insertion as " false " speaks for itself. I admit that in financial terms the Weber-story is, by itself, chickenshit. But, there are 751 MEPs and only very few are honest-to-god-idealists. Not surprising, the total administrative expenses for the so-called EU-Parliament are in excess of € 2 billion. Some count in € 2.5 billion - this is not chickenshit and more than half of it is waste and fraud. These are estimates of former MEPs.

everyone really interested in facts (and not simple EU-Bashing) can consult the source mentioned and will quickly find out that your assertation concerning Weber is indeed completely false. There is NO talk about a second staff car, and it seems quite logical that Weber keeps an office in his original constituency. Furthermore, you might be surprised to learn that the allegedly so honorouble Mr Farage - HIMSELF - has what you call a satelite office in lovely Tunbridge Wells. You might also be surprised to learn that the biggest case of fraud so far known relates to another EU-hater, Ms Marie Le Pen, who misused EU-money for party purposes not related to EU-policy in anyway. Now, one can claim that Weber made a bit of an extensive use of his car - yet condemning the entire EP because of single members is like rejecting democracy in principle because some people voted erronesously for the AfD.

Your other accusations against the EP are certainly as distasteful as they are mostly ungrounded. Apparently, you do not base them on facts but on personal prejudice, if not hate towards the European idea in general.
By the way, the administrative expense of the EP is 1,9 Bn, your figure is simply wrong. Moreover, just 22% are used for cost related to EP members and staff.
Everyone interested in facts, and not mere EU-bashing, can find that information.

A very recent information was that the Bundestag has expenses of about € 1 Billion. The highest ever. The EU-parliament-expenses exceed € 2 Billion. Waste and fraud. It does not get any better if Le Pen and/or Farage, or whoever, were worse than Weber, or Schulz, or whoever. It is still the cesspool it has been for more than 25 years.

..evidence and thus can only be understood as mere agitation. You may like strong words, such as cesspool - which you seem to repeat in each of your comments, but that does not make your short contributions any better, in terms of quality, to the contrary. Moreover, you wonder why the EP might be bigger and therefore needs more resources than the Bundestag? Well, I assume you haven't noticed that the EP represents slightly more people than the Bundestag.

Reinhard Benditte | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 16:37

In reply to by Gast

Regarding your denial of the facts i.e. that the previous comment were completely false here is a reference which hopefully enlightens you regarding how Mr. Weber is spending tax payers money: "Wahlkampf mit Diplomatenauto Weber nutzt EU-Dienstwagen auch in Bayern". (Source:… ).

And may I remind you how Martin Schulz, the former president of the EU parliament, outrageously used his office and the money he received from the tax payer during his election campaign or is that in your opinion also something fabricated?

And with regard to Mr. Farage he was always very clear what his intend was and he was fighting for it. What is wrong with that. I prefer a politician who stands by his beliefs compared to a politician like former EU president Juncker who made it clear how he sees EU policy being done outside what it really should be. See his statement from 1999 in my separate comment! Best regards!

Reinhard Benditte | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 16:39

In reply to by Gast

„Wir beschließen etwas, stellen das dann in den Raum und warten einige Zeit ab, was passiert. Wenn es dann kein großes Geschrei gibt und keine Aufstände, weil die meisten gar nicht begreifen, was da beschlossen wurde, dann machen wir weiter - Schritt für Schritt, bis es kein Zurück mehr gibt.“

Gisela Fimiani | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 16:54

The EU will either be a Community of independent Nations with certain clearly defined common goals, or (hopefully) it will not be. The citizens should reject a technocratic, paternalistic Hyper- Government whose goal is: to deprive the citizens of their rights as citizens to reduce them to their species alone. Citizen versus human being.

warum erscheinen im Cicero immer wieder Artikel auf Englisch? Lesen Engländer o.a. überhaupt: The Cicero?
Meine Muttersprache ist deutsch, ich lebe & arbeite in Deutschland und bin auch Europäer (gibt es da auch eine Sprache?). Wenn ich englische Artikel lesen möchte, kaufe ich mir englische Zeitungen (The Times, The Guardian u.a.) Nur mein Schul-Englisch ist jetzt über 40 Jahre her!
Ich habe es gehasst, wenn unsere Lehrerin mit uns ins Kino ging und dort Filme schauten im Original mit Untertitel. Filme leben doch vor allem von Bildern.
Man las angestrengt den Untertitel und bekam so viele Details des Flims bzw. der Schauspieler so richtig nicht mit.
Haben sie schon mal versucht "technisches" English zu übersetzen?
Noch was: 90% der Publikationen von Unis u.ä. weltweit (Forschung, ) werden nur auf Englisch veröffentlicht. Die Engländer & Amis veröffentlichen nichts auf Deutsch, Französisch, Spanisch usw.

Gerhard Lenz | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 17:26

In reply to by Gast

One article a month is not a big thing. Or are you afraid you don' t understand everything? Or is it the usual, narrow-minded nationalism, according to which everything in Deutschland must be in Deutsch, the language of "people and faherland?" Other media, such as "Der Spiegel", likewise publish online content in English.

My request was not addressed to them but they still add their mustard! Do I understand already - only you don't! Because once again you have understood nothing. You should read my comment and not start your agitation again (as always). By the way, there are also readers (older ones) here who don't know any English. Sure, the English & american ones. Media publish articles in German, French etc. all the time.
Too... "narrow-minded nationalism..." If I understand them correctly, the English & Americans would have to be the greatest nationalists, even Nazis. Keyword: "Make Amerika Great; Buy English, God save the Queen ( not the World); NRA etc....list not complete!
But you as a cosmospolitan are at home in the world!

Translated with (free version)

By now, you certainly should be aware that you are writing in an open, public forum. Like it or not, you will have to live with the fact that people might feel the urge to reply to your posts. I can assure you that I regularly receive replies to my comments, from people I haven't invited to do so, and - unfortunately - not always very friendly. Secondly, as concerns the narrow-mindness I presume, I reckon that you bemoan that German media occasionally publish in English, but English or other foreign press organs never in German. Again, you might not have been aware that English is today's international lingua france, while the significance of the German language hardly reaches beyond Europe. Third, it is true some older people aren't able to speak any English at all - though they certainly had plenty of opportunity to change that, so I do not really feel sorry for them.
With kind regards - or, as you apparently prefer - salute!

Ma demande ne leur a pas été adressée mais ils ajoutent quand même leur moutarde ! Est-ce que je comprends déjà - seulement vous ne comprenez pas ! Parce qu'une fois de plus, vous n'avez rien compris. Vous devriez lire mon commentaire et ne pas recommencer à vous agiter (comme toujours). D'ailleurs, il y a aussi des lecteurs (plus âgés) qui ne connaissent pas l'anglais. Bien sûr, les Anglais et les Américains. Les médias publient en permanence des articles en allemand, en français, etc.
Trop... "de nationalisme borné..." Si je les comprends bien, les Anglais et les Américains devraient être les plus grands nationalistes, même les nazis. Mot-clé : "Make Amerika Great ; Buy English, God save the Queen ( not the World) ; NRA etc....liste non complète !
Mais en tant que cosmopolite, vous êtes chez vous dans le monde !

mein Kommentar/Antwort auf Deutsch:
Die selbe Prozedur wie immer!
Meine Anfrage war nicht an sie gerichtet aber sie geben trotzdem ihren Senf dazu! Verstehen tue ich es schon-nur sie nicht! Denn sie haben mal wieder nichts verstanden. Sie sollten meinen Kommentar lesen und nicht wieder (wie immer) ihre Agitation vom Stapel lassen. Übrigenz gibt es auch hier Leser (Ältere) die gar kein Englisch können. Klar, die englischen & amerk. Medien veröffentlichen dauernd Artikel in Deutsch, Französisch etc.
Zu ..."engstirnige Nationalismus..." Wenn ich sie richtig verstehe, müßten ja die Engländer & Amerikaner ja die größten Nationalisten sein, gar Nazis. Stichwort: "Make Amerika Great; Buy English, God save the Queen ( not the World); NRA etc....Liste nicht vollständig!
Aber sie als Kosmospolit sind ja in der Welt zuhause!

in relation to any large European city the staffing level of the EU institutions is rather low? And I assume there are indeed quite busy, considering the different areas in which the EU is nowadays active.

Yes, Gisela Fimiani, I'm with you.

Only idependent nations is the rigtht way für the EU.
Cause it's the only way that citizens will accept.

Andreas Zimmermann | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 17:01

If there was ever a chance of a European identity, the Brussels bureaucrats gambled it away. I envied the British for their referendum, for the outcome and for leaving the Union. I hope that they will not be the last and that the European peoples can be free again. More is nothing more to say.

Gerhard Lenz | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 17:30

In reply to by Gast

EUdSSR was invented and is being used by the political far-right. Of course, a peacefully created European community must be the logical enemy of any far-right nationalist.

Christoph Kuhlmann | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 17:32

It's not as strong as the national identities but it makes a difference whether your country is in the club or not. Even the Italiens are not ready to return too the Lira because 15%-25% inflation per year are not so nice. They know their political system and its disability to orientate at the common good. Ironically it needed a right wing populist to implement a basic financial security for each citizen payed by tax payers. So this was a big step onto European social standards and uniformity. Judge their deeds and not their rhetoric. The author did not mentioned the smaller countries like Ireland the Baltic States and others, which needs Europe to have some weight in international affairs and shelter from financial conjecture and military interventions of Russia. Neither Poland nor Hungary or other East-European nations would pass on that even without transferals from the others. No, Europe will become stronger. There will be more integrated military power and common border guard e.g.

Everyone who has lived on a different continent can confirm that he feels in some way related to other Europeans when he meets them there. That identity might not "feel" as strong as a national identity, but the latter is something which is doubtlessly very arguable.
A Bavarin might feel closer to an Austrian, than to an Friesian, who, himself, might feel more connected to someone form Denmark or the Netherlands.
The concept of a national identity is to a large part merely the result of nationalistic thinking. No one can satisfactorily answer the question what a German identity is made up of.

During the last 40+ years I have lived in countries such as Australia, Canada and the USA and besides Europe I also had the opportunity to visit quite a number of countries in Asia including China, Europe including Russia and South America during my professional career. I have never found what you are stating: "he feels in some way related to other Europeans when he meets them there"! If I met a person from France then they feel as French citizen, when I met a a person from Italy they feel as Italian. Nobody would say I am European, everyone is proud of their country of citizenship! But I understand that there are a number of German idealists who believe that there is something such as a European identity. Whatever they believe is ok with me, but I personally beg to differ!

Let's say there are a number of friendly people. And I can assure you that when you live in Asia, for example, and you meet another European, there is immediately some intellectual connection - which is inevitably, because our cultural background is similar. In short, particularly for people like you, there is indeed some European identity
Well, if you never made that experience, there might be a reason for that, on a more personal level.

I have never said that I have met unfriendly people. All I did state is “that there are a number of German idealists who believe that there is something such as a European identity.”

Coming back to friendly or unfriendly people, it had been my experience that being outside of Germany and engaging respectfully with locals or visitors from other countries you are also being treated respectfully.

And in order to have an intellectual connection you do not need to have an immediate national or European background. To the contrary, everyone had been proud of their national identity.

Meeting people in social events, in a restaurant or bar it always had been sufficient to discuss different topics based on sound arguments and without any disrespect to or offending the other person. And such a discussion had never any relations to the national background.

However, there have always been one or two persons in a conversation or discussion who felt it is necessary to outline their intellectual background!

On a side note, Mr. Lenz, I am always curious to understand how a person believes they know me even though they never met me! And I am referring to your sentence “In short, particularly for people like you, there is indeed some European identity!”

And last but not least I am still curious in which countries you have lived having made the experience you had outlined in your previous comment! Thank you!

Eckart Härter | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 19:02

Herr Friedman hat recht. Die Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft EWG war eine gute und erfolgreiche Sache, und die europäischen Länder waren längst zu einer Gemeinschaft zusammengewachsen, die auf Freiwilligkeit und Souveränität der einzelnen Staaten beruhte. Wir sind schon 1958 an der französischen Grenze ohne Kontrolle durchgewinkt worden. Der Krake EU mit dem bürokratischen Wasserkopf in Brüssel und der Gängelei der Mitgliedsländer, wobei sich einzelne Regierungs-Chefs offensichtlich als Oberführer verstehen, dieses System treibt die Mitgliedsländer auseinander anstatt sie weiter zu vereinen. Zudem ist Europa viel zu sehr über das Geld statt über den gemeinsamen Kulturraum definiert worden: "Scheitert der Euro, scheitert Europa!" (Eine der Merkel'schen Phrasen). Europa, der landschaftlich und kulturell interessanteste und vielseitigste Kontinent bleibt; und selbst die Briten bleiben Europäer - genauso wie die Norweger und die Schweizer, das können auch die Politiker nicht ändern.

Verhofstadt will ja als Folge des Brexit, mehr Zwang und Zentralmacht auf "unbotmäßige Mitgliedstaaten" ausüben und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker einschränken. Was nicht nur sehr undemokratisch klingt, sondern weiter zur Unbeliebtheit der Brüssler beitragen dürfte. Da denke ich stark an Italien, hier vermute ich den nächsten Austrittskandidaten.
Ich drücke den Briten die Daumen, sie mögen den Brüssler wirtschaftlich eine lange Nase drehen.

Inge Meier | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 20:59

Was die Gründungsväter/mütter sich wohl erhofft haben war eine Einheitlichkeit mit einem menschenfreundlichen Sozialismus (vielleicht nach schwedischem Vorbild), wo die reicheren Länder mit den ärmeren teilen.Gemeinsame Sozialstandards, Mindestgehalt, Versicherung und nach einiger Zeit Grundgehalt. Einwanderer sind willkommen, da auch angenommen wurde , dass sie sich mit diesen Idealen gerne identifizieren und damit auch Europäische Identität annehmen.
So sympathisch dies auch alles klingt , realistischer wäre es wohl gewesen mit den Unterschiedlichkeiten anzufangen und dann nach den Gemeinsamkeiten zu suchen, z.B. inwieweit Sozialstandards unter unterschiedlichen Gegebenheiten harmonisiert werden können.

Kurt Walther | Fr, 31. Januar 2020 - 23:05

Friedman stellt die Gretchenfrage der EU, nämlich die Frage nach einer europäischen Identität: Gibt es sie oder nicht?
Friedmans diesbezügliche staatstheoretische Betrachtungen sind schwer nachvollziehbar, verstehe aber seine kritische Haltung zur EU als Staatsgebilde infolge ihrer inneren logischen Widersprüche von liberaler Demokratie und nationaler Selbstbestimmung. Das Problem ist, dass es viele Arten von liberaler Demokratie gibt und nationale Besonderheiten sowieso. Die Schwierigkeiten beim Umgang mit dem Euro zeigen es deutlich genug. Was für die Wirtschaft des nördlichen EU-Teils gut ist, wirkt für EU-Süd negativ. So ist das, wenn zusammengeführt wird, was nicht zusammengehört. Die Probleme mit UK, Polen, Ungarn und Italien sind dann noch von ganz besonderer Art. Diese Länder wollten bzw. wollen sich nicht noch mehr hineinreden lassen. Und was wird mit Frankreich? Vielleicht gibt Marine Le Pen 2022 der EU den Todesstoß, falls sich bis dahin die EU nicht reformiert hat.

Dazu schreibt Jutta Limbach: "Es gibt keine europäische Identität" (Quelle: FAZ vom 26.08.2012) Lesenswert! Die dänische Königin äusserte sich sinngemäß schon vor ein paar Jahren: "Europa wird sich irgendwann selbst auflösen, wir werden bleiben." (Die Dänen und ihr Königshaus) Diesem statement werde ich nicht widersprechen.

Hannibal Murkle | Sa, 1. Februar 2020 - 03:17

@"Some politicians who were defeated in elections have made the claim that these elections were the result of fraud or illegitimate manipulation of public opinion, as was the case with the Brexit vote."

In ganz Westeuropa wird mit Klimapanik im Sinne der Grünen manipuliert, was öffentlich zuwenig angesprochen wird. Spätestens die Eintragung von Fridays (TM) als Handelsmarke müsste jedem veranschaulichen, dass es bei der Geschichte bloß um Macht und Geld geht.

Reinhard Benditte | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 16:18

There are a number of states which are not part of the EU. Therefore using the word “European” is definitely not the correct term to describe the 27 countries which are part of the EU. The EU is a confederation of states and definitely not a Federal State like the USA.

I would also argue that the EU is not a Liberal Democracy. To the best of my knowledge a Liberal Democracy emphasizes the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and a system of checks and balances between branches of government. The EU parliament does not represent the citizens of the 27 countries equally, there is no real check and balances between branches of government, by the various contracts the individual states have still rights to reject Brussels legislation – even though I recognize that it is more on paper than in reality.

To be continued.

Reinhard Benditte | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 16:20

The parliament in Brussel is not really responsible for setting the budget of the EU, there say regarding the Commissioners is limited and the Heads of the various States do have more powers than the EU Commission.

In any case, Mr. Friedman has not recognized the fact that a lot of today’s problem are due to the EU not working in the interest of the citizens of the 27 states; it rather follows an agenda which a lot of citizens do not agree with or outside reject. The introduction of the Euro was a major mistake and resulted in the PIGS to run into economical difficulties. The crises around the illegal migration towards Europe fostered by A. Merkel and supported by the left-wing parties in Germany has driven a split into a joint approach by EU states.

need plenty of correction. You are right in that you say that there are institutional shortcomings in terms of democratic rights given to the parliament or division of powers. Yet in order to be precise you must add that this is so because the member states refused to equip the EU with all relevant rights and authority. If someone is to blame, then the member states (and not the EU), who were only willing to agree to some kind of restricted union, lacking essential functions. The separation of powers is mostly at risk in countries with EU-sceptical governments, such as Hungary and Poland. The "agenda" you're talking about is (again) result of what the national governments have agreed to, and not the result of some kind of Brussels request show. Whether the introduction of the Euro is a success or not is a matter of personal judgement - no one can honestly say that the so called PIGS experienced really disadvantages - Ireland is an ideal example of how much a country profited.

For going into further details. Surely, the shortfall of the EU is a result of the decisions by the 27 states and of course the leadership of the EU is also an outcome of what the 27 states had determined and how they acted on decisions being made! Their representatives, be it Mr. Juncker or Mr. Draghi, have not been to the benefits for the citizens of any of the 27 states. If one looks in particular to Berlin Angela Merkel had very often been quite satisfied that a decision was made in Brussels and she did not had to argue such decisions in the Bundestag.

With regard to the disadvantages of the PIGS I have seen the impact of the Euro and the result in particular in Spain and Greece. The handling of the Greece financial desaster had been a disgrace. I have had the opportunity to speak with many citizens of Greece and the impact of the so called savings program Ms Merkel and Mr. Schäuble are responsible for is a shame and had a disastrous impact on many families!

The phrase "the EU is not Europe" is completely meaningless in the context of a discussion about the European Union. Success or failure of the EU cannot be judged by pointing out that there are a few nations which opted for not joining.
If Frontex did not work satisfactorily, then this is again because the responsiblities and resources of that organisation were limited by the member states. By constantly mistaken about the cause of those shortcomings, you reveal that you do not understand how the EU works. You blame the concept of the EU, but apparently are not aware (and maybe not willing to accept) that failure is rooted in the incompleteness of the EU organisation.
Logically,only further integration can help to improve the situation. Considering the competition of an erratic US, an assaulitive Russia and an econonically aggressive China, the European nations have no choice than to further integrate. As concerns the UK, time will show...

Reinhard Benditte | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 16:20

The mismanagement of Forex, the missing will to protect the borders of the EU, the divided notion towards finding solutions for a number of issues affecting all of the EU states has led to the EU now being regarded as a “monster” which needs reform to bring it back to the original status such as the EWG.

Great Britain has recognize if they want to maintain their sovereignty they have to exit the EU and that is what they did. In my mind it is only a question of time when other states will follow.

Alexander Mazurek | So, 2. Februar 2020 - 18:59

… captured Europe's nations and Philippe de Villiers was right writing in 2016 about the founding fathers of the EU "I pulled on one thread of the lie and it all came out" ...

have captured Europe? Again, it is amazing how wrong someone can be about the EU. Just bad information, disinterest or general hostility towards the EU? Citing of all people the founder of a party that was hostile to the EU as some kind of witness that the EU has failed can only be described as a big joke.
Commissioners are appointed by member states. They have to act in accordance with the treaties, which have been agreed to by the member states.
Some basic knowledge would help.

Schulz, Irmgard | Mo, 3. Februar 2020 - 17:06

"EU is moving toward an existential crisis .....It may survive, but only as a coalition of nations representing a fraction of Europe .... that European identity was an illusion".
This corresponds exactly to my attitude. Maybe in the foreseeable future - so I hope - the majority of EU countries are ready to support such a "transformation".
By the way - Mr. Lenz is really running in top form again, isn't he? So what - reality will catch up with him very soon.

Gerhard Lenz | Mo, 3. Februar 2020 - 18:59

In reply to by Gast

Whose reality? One that rejects the idea that Europe may evolve politically? Your idea of Europe as some kind of lose assembly of independent states is outdated - such a Europe wold not be a union. Yet the time of narrow-minded, egoist nationalism is defintely over. Global problems do not stop at national boundaries, regardless of the number of troops you station there. That's today's reality, which can only be mastered commonly, not by small nations hiding bedind border fences like in the last century.

Tomas Poth | Mo, 3. Februar 2020 - 23:49

War sie jemals mehr als ein Haufen Splitter, der nur mit Geld der Nettozahler geklebt wird?
Europäische Identität? Wo denn bei den unzähligen Sprachen und kulturellen Unterschieden von Nord nach Süd, von Ost nach West. Eine dysfunktionale Träumerei!
Wozu auch ein EU-Identiätsbrei dem keiner schmeckt? Wo bleibt da der Respekt, die Achtung und auch Bewunderung dafür dass es auch anders geht als im eigenen Land, aber warum deshalb das Eigene aufgeben?
Eine EWG mit fortschreibender Harmonisierung der Standards bei Industrienormen, Rechtsnormen, Arbeitsnormen, Umweltstandards etc., da gäbe es genug zu tun und sichert einen Auftritt gegenüber anderen Wirtschaftsräumen.

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