Europe is in a state of crisis, but not the one that is typically talked about. The continent is certainly going through difficult economic straits in the past few years; that is undeniable. What remains more elusive is the painful slowdown and recession of opportunity that is settling closer in the lives and towns of many places in Europe and its people. The cause of this stark outlook comes in the inequality of Europe’s peoples, not only within some of the countries in the European Union (EU) and the Eurozone, but also between its nations. This fundamental understanding of what it means to be a European and what Europe is has to change by leaps and bounds to create a better Europe that is as vital to the future of the larger world as is the United States.
There is no need to go over once again the specific circumstances that lead up to the current financial recession, if that is even a suitable world to describe the crisis that has befallen countries such as Spain, Greece, etc. That being said, the shaky groundwork underneath the lifestyle that many Europeans believed they could perpetually enjoy was smoke and mirrors constructed by economists, politicians, and other leaders who did not have the courage to fix the problems in the system, one of the most important being how some people, such as a prospective opposition leader in Italy, treat governance as a shadow game of interests and profits rather than a solemn duty to ensure stability and opportunity.
Unfortunately, even if the specific measures to counter the recession and bring suffering countries into economic order are not directed specifically at the average person, it is he or she who is suffering the most now. Unemployment in the Eurozone is above 10 percent and even 20 percent in some countries. Within those numbers, youth unemployment in some countries stands above 50 percent, and there is no knowing when those numbers will come down. People are forcibly removed from their homes with no place to go. Their life savings have been reduced to dust, and the national governments have no means of reversing that on their own or pushing for the growth to get the economy going again.
In many cases, that has not been absent attempts to try to do so. Though there are certainly some who rather than really live up to their jobs as “public servants” and have instead reaped the benefits of corrupted systems, there are many leaders in Europe whose real interest is to raise their countries from the ashes, give opportunity to those currently without hope, and prevent the steady stream of gifted young minds leaving for other nations of Europe or beyond the boundaries of the continent.
The great danger is that, though this recession should end, the balance in Europe will be so shifted against countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and so many others that they will remain economically dependent on the European northwest. As is the case with many opportunistic people in the United States leaving less prosperous states and towns for more opportunistic places, the same could happen in Europe. As the system is set up, there is nothing that any member of the EU can do to prevent migrants from entering or leaving their territory and possibly never returning. And a general outflow of peoples from certain parts of Europe can result in the eventual cultural destruction of those regions. Large or small, the Europe of the future needs to a product of all of its peoples from every nation within, not the top stone of a pyramid built by France, Germany, and Britain should it choose to remain in the EU.
The current crisis and the troubles to come are not exclusively the fault of the nation-states of Europe, but the current system is part of the reason why it continues. Some of the countries outside of the Eurozone are able to return to economic stability because they are in greater control of their own sovereignty. They have the means to rescue themselves. The countries of the Eurozone do not. Sovereignty over the nations that use the Euro currency is caught in a limbo between those national governments and the institutions of the European Union. Neither side of that divide has the means and tools to deal the present and future problems of this region.
But there is only one direction: forward. The Euro cannot be undone without a regional and global economic catastrophe following it. Too much has been done to make it a part of the global system that to remove it would cause a still fragile global economy to crumble like the blocks in a game of jenga. The recovery from such an event would take decades.
The Eurozone has one viable and long term solution: it must integrate and properly delegate powers to the European and national institutions so as to ensure a stable and opportunistic sovereign territory. For lack of a better way of phrasing it, it must become a country in its own right.
This might appear to be a stupid idea to those who see the European institutions in having just as much culpability as anyone else in the severity of the current crisis, and they arguably have a point. The institutions as they currently exist and the people running them have not made the situation better, or at least not yet. It can very easily be argued that the perpetual austerity policy has done more to continue the recession rather than end it. However, all of this does not mean that Europe is the problem.
Nearly two and a half centuries ago, the national government of the United States of America was not suited to deal with the problems of a nation. Today, the institutions of the European Union have been thus far unsuccessful to deal with what amount to national problems. It may time for a similar change.
No country should be forced into this. No people should be tied up and dragged into Europe against their will. Should any country, in or out of the Eurozone, not want a part of what could be a United States of Europe, it is not the business of those who believe in Europe to force them into it.
The Europe to come will only last if it is built by peoples who truly want it. It would be useful to remember that the convention that wrote the American Constitution was not the Articles of Confederation Congress or the state legislatures but rather a group of men who were intended to be representatives of the people. Then the state legislatures, the closer level of government to the people at the time, passed the Constitution one at a time. If there is to be a United States of Europe, it must be created by its people, not by the European institution itself.