[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Cracks In The EU
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2003


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] It all seemed so perfect. The Western European nations were marching in tandem, joined more recently by their Eastern European brethren toward a new reality: A United States of Europe. But now, fundamental issues have arisen which cast doubt on the foundation of the structure.

Some forty years ago, I wrote for my college newspaper at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) an article suggesting that the Western European nations would one day form a single political entity with enormous economic benefit to each of them. Some readers scoffed at the idea, contending that there was too much animosity between the French and the Germans after the wars of the twentieth century for that to occur. Well with the passage of time, that is precisely what is occurring.

There were some strong motivating factors. One was of course perceived economic benefit. The idea of a single trading block would make everyone wealthier, or so it seemed. There is a pragmatic school of political scientists who believe that politics always follow the money.

Marching hand in hand, the Western Europeans established a series of governmental bureaucracies headquartered primarily in Brussels. Old border crossing points between the countries were abandoned. A common currency, the Euro, burst forth. Here was the ultimate way to best the United States. Create a stronger currency than the dollar—the symbol of Uncle Sam’s dominance.

Through it all, Britain, Italy and to some extent Spain have been ambivalent. London’s refusal to abandon the pound for the Euro served notice on the continent that many had their doubts about the cost benefit ratio for the U.K.

On the other hand, many British businessmen dreaded the idea of being left out of one of the two great trading blocks in the world. The repercussions for their commerce could be devastating. That prompted one businessman to comment to me, “If it came down to two alternatives, we’d prefer to become the fifty-first state, rather than be dominated by the French and the Germans.”

Then there is the European-United States relationship. We could be kind and call it competition. Cheers go up throughout Western Europe when reports come in that Airbus is selling more planes on the world market than Boeing.

But let’s be brutally honest. Among many Europeans there is simply resentment toward the United States, and it has been exacerbated in the last several years.

Nothing demonstrates this as fully as the European response to Washington’s position in Iraq. Without getting into whether Europe should have been dealt with more diplomacy or not, the fact of the matter is that we are viewed as the upstart, arrogant, wealthy younger brother. If we say white, in Paris and Bonn many will, in a knee jerk reaction, say black.

These feelings toward the United States have lubricated the movement toward Western European unity. There is nothing to unite disparate groups faster than a common enemy.

All is no longer moving so smoothly. Opposition is repeatedly being expressed in London to a bloc being dominated by the French and Germans, in which the U.K. would be treated as a stepsister. Add to that, an unwillingness by many in the U.K. to be bound by edicts emanating from cone headed bureaucrats in Brussels.

Despite these loud objections in London, and fainter ones in Rome and Madrid, the European juggernaught kept rolling.

Its backers moved boldly to snap up the Eastern European nations put into a political free fall by the disintegration of the Soviet bloc. The EU would now run as far east as the Polish Soviet border. Even Turkey was clamoring to get in, which has posed a problem for the Europeans because, “they’re different. Those Turks. Very democratic, but oh so Muslim.” Do we really want to admit them into the Garden of Eden.

But guess what? There is now dissention within the Garden and not merely about Britain or Turkey.

On November 25 a majority of the EU finance ministers refused to impose on Germany and France sanctions clearly called for by EU regulations for running excessive budget deficits. Had it been two smaller countries, there is no doubt the sanctions would have been imposed. This has produced enormous grumbling that there are separate rules for these two EU giants who were permitted to flaunt their obligations.

Added to this, a major controversy has erupted in drafting the EU constitution pertaining to how many votes each country should have under the weighted voting system. In order to induce Poland to join the EU, the Poles were offered a very favorable status, giving them almost as many votes as Germany whose population is twice its size and whose economy is ten times larger. A similar disparity exists in favor of Spain. Now Germany and France want to change the votes in the new constitution. The Poles are screaming that they were conned into joining under false pretenses.

These are but two of the several disputes which have surfaced as national interests are putting the brakes on those trying to implement the EU constitution like a runaway freight train. It remains to be seen whether it will remain on the tracks or not.