Is the ‘Euronation’ a feasible project or a utopia?
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti recently blamed the leaders of the two biggest European economies, Germany and France, for setting a bad example for the rest of the continent by not abiding to the fiscal rules they had recommended so insistently. At first look, this accusation might seem to shift the responsibility for the European crisis onto someone else’s shoulders. However, some aspects of the accusation are not entirely wrong.
Unfortunately, Monti forgot to blame the same leaders for not only disobeying the fiscal rules they themselves imposed, but also for ignoring the disobedience of the big and important banks in their countries that, in some ways, forced some of the European economies into their bankruptcy worries by irresponsibly lending them large amounts of money.
The ultimate target of the Common Market when it was established in 1957 was to reach a political union through economic cooperation among the member countries. There were many reasons for the desire to transform Europe from a historical battleground into a land of peace and create a third world power against the dominance of the United States and the Soviet Union in the wake of World War II.
The “economic cooperation” part of the project proved to be feasible to some extent. However, when the leaders of the original members attempted to create a Euronation by “enlargement” and, furthermore, impose a common currency on that new nation, the project went from being feasible to becoming a utopia.
The reason is obvious. Historical facts, geostrategic positions, traditions, culture and the human factors of old and new members are so different from each other that creating a “Euronation” was unrealistic. In addition, because of the different ideologies of the governments in different countries and as a result of the disparate monetary and fiscal policies that have been implemented, imposing a common currency was not feasible. The recent crisis has proved this.
During the recent crisis, Europe’s inability to create a common understanding about the seriousness of the sovereign debt problem and to come up with a sound solution to prevent the collapse of some national economies became obvious. Moreover, the European crisis is no longer a regional one. It has begun to deal a serious blow to the world economy as a whole, while the European debt crisis now points to the political weaknesses of the eurozone. Some people naturally think that Greece has become the scapegoat.
The leaders of Europe have asked for the implementation of very strict austerity measures in countries which need help to prevent economic bankruptcy. At the same time, they have advised strong growth to reach solutions to their economic troubles. It’s not just economists, but others as well know that those two policies conflict with one another.
On the other hand, it is not politically easy to impose austerity measures in a democratic country without taking into consideration people’s possible reactions and their poor living conditions. Recent Eurostat figures revealed that the unemployment rate rose to 10.8 percent in the eurozone, which means the number of jobless has reached 17.1 million. A sizable proportion of these jobless people are living now in campgrounds - resembling the situation in the United States following the 1929 crisis.
One last note: Jean-Claude Trichet, the former head of the European Central Bank, recently said in a public interview that Europe needed unity. Then he explained the reasons for his insistence, which were well-known by every authority in Europe but not welcomed by all of them. This is the reason that confused people further about the feasibility of creating a Euronation.