Hard times ahead for the European Union amid the migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border

EU accuses the admittedly unpredictable Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of waging a hybrid war against him at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin

The formation of the European Union (EU) was an extraordinary undertaking by international standards since never before in history has an entire continent voluntarily sought such a degree of common goal and political fusion. The European Union was formed in 1957, entered into force the following year, and the road of its gradual expansion began with six members – France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy. It was preceded by a free market in coal and steel, the ECSC, in 1951 and the current number of its members has reached twenty-seven, stretching from the Mediterranean and the English Channel to the border of the former USSR. The union has gradually come closer, establishing common and social norms and a level playing field for markets and the movement of people virtually unimpeded.

The formation of the EU was a rare historical development which generated a vast academic literature on the nature of national political identity and sovereign prerogatives and the stages by which they could be mostly dissolved into a great pact of nations. until then separated who had only recently been at war with each other. The two most significant episodes, among others, in the history of the European community after its creation were the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 and Brexit.

The Maastricht Treaty established common citizenship, an EU foreign and security policy, cooperation on justice and home affairs and an agreement to limit the national debt and budget deficits that presaged the historic common currency euro in 1999. Twenty years after Maastricht, a Fiscal successor A pact was also signed in 2012 which implied a critical limitation of national policy by agreeing to run budget surpluses, replacing the earlier Maastricht agreement on debt and budget cuts. This was particularly important because governments regularly use flexible tax measures to influence the level of economic activity.

The second dramatic event was the trauma of the recent British departure from the European Union, the so-called Brexit, with much acrimony and difficult negotiations. It has left major issues unresolved and continues to haunt relations between the EU and its estranged former member.

The ongoing dispute over the growing number of Arab-Kurdish migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border, seeking refuge inside the EU, has highlighted an intractable dilemma it faces, which has complex roots and escapes. at easy resolution. Indeed, the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border highlights a moment of unity within the EU, but it also highlights, paradoxically, a source of persistent division within it that the failure to resolve satisfactorily. the Belarusian crisis will only precipitate again and intensify.

Poland’s determination to deny increasingly desperate and often belligerent refugees entry into its national territory has garnered support from European governments despite some generally artificial criticism in left-wing European circles about their plight. The EU accuses the admittedly unpredictable Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of waging a hybrid war against it at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the eternal scapegoat.

The hapless Putin obviously ranks above even the frequently demonized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the diabolical quotient among condescending Europeans. The problem lies in the question of which countries in Europe would offer accommodation to refugees, thereby attracting countless more and also opening their purse strings.

The answer is not an EU member, with their economies marred by the veritable Hybrid War inflicted by the world’s only self-certified dictator, which sparked the global crisis. COVID-19[female[feminine , destroying economic life and any budgetary room for maneuver.

The relentless influx of predominantly Muslim refugees is a source of serious disruption within the European Union, with four former members of the former Soviet camp, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, seemingly unwilling to implement a prior agreement to accept their settlement quotas. This was a burden that was previously borne disproportionately by countries like Greece, due to the geographical location, which was one of the least able to bear the economic burden.

Angela Merkel from West Germany reversed expected political responses in 2015 by welcoming over a million Syrian refugees to West Germany, but it changed her political landscape, with many Germans unhappy with the massive influx which leaned strongly towards the political right. This helped to ensure that such impulsive generosity would not happen again and not just in West Germany, with anti-immigrant political parties gaining ground across Europe. Thus, the arrival of more refugees only means more internal conflicts within the EU. It may also be remembered that Brexit happened due to British reservations about the continued viability of the EU’s free movement of labor policy, a fundamental pillar of its asserted identity as unique community.

The socio-economic convergence of the countries of the European Union, propelled by its executive arm, the European Commission, has also created dissension among members and regular disagreements even within the Commission itself, which proposes measures to speed it up. Such convergence often calls into question the long-established practices of individual member countries as well as the national sentiment within them.

Recently, the European Court of Justice, the EU’s supreme court ruling on European law, has opposed Poland’s reluctance to accept injunctions on alleged arbitrary disciplinary proceedings for its judges. Hungary also disagrees with the EU’s policy towards LGBTQ rights, arguing that it protects Hungarian children from moral debasement, sparking a real uproar in the European Parliament which ultimately oversees the political, with many members seemingly gripped by Woke’s sentiment. There are other contentious issues related to monitoring EU funding, as abusive spending by recipient countries is seen as commonplace. EU funding is the essential bait for the poorest countries in the EU to remain its members as it is a large net transfer for them and it was also a key motivation for their decision to join the EU first.

The real underlying insurmountable disjunction of the EU is the very aspiration for a comprehensive economic union which the creation of a common currency in 1999, the euro, sought to achieve to a significant extent. A common currency means that the individual central banks of the member states lose control over monetary policy, which is an essential instrument for influencing economic activity and therefore the politically sensitive level of employment. A restriction on public deficits, fully instituted in 2012, is a further limitation of national policy by issuing bonds to finance them and these are also implicitly guaranteed by all EU members. This guarantee to bonds issued by individual Member States is effectively extended by other more prosperous Member States such as West Germany. It is reluctant to allow their broadcast indiscriminately, and indeed its political freedom on the issue faces legal restrictions by its own national courts. This disjunction illustrates the crux of an inherently problematic dilemma of a monetary union without a comprehensive fiscal union.

The implicit corollary expectation that national economies will simply adapt to market dictates, instead of resorting to monetary and exchange rate policy, differs in the rate at which this can occur due to what is described as a Institutional ‘friction’ within individual Member States. The peculiarities of legacy institutions and social norms in different countries mean that markets do not adjust smoothly. The unfortunate result, in practice, is unemployment in order to change prices to ensure the discipline of the EU single market. Indeed, and above all, without a national currency, an essential instrument of economic adjustment is replaced by the need to modify prices through employment levels.

This dilemma is compounded by the divergent growth in productivity rates between EU member states, with Germany enjoying increasing price advantages because its productivity has grown faster than elsewhere. As a result, industry in other EU member countries becomes relatively uncompetitive and indeed German companies are gradually taking over companies in other EU countries like Italy as well.

The unprecedented European project of continental unification inevitably faces major obstacles because it is a continuous and unfinished project and any consensus to completely dissolve the individual nation itself is not the goal. The reason for this is that in the end, national interests as well as sentiments in different member countries have never been in uncomplicated harmony, as illustrated by the issues of LGBTQ rights and the critical issue of adjustment. economical to market dictates. There are compelling national interests in a common future which have so far ensured the survival of the EU, although the discord persists. But this reality has proved insufficient for Britain to stay in the EU and whether other members will also come to the same conclusion is a moot question.

The writer has taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for more than two decades. The opinions expressed are personal.

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