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Basics on the European Union – VII

Pointing toward a More Socialist Europe

Phillip Mericle
The situation in Europe 2017 reflected neither the victory Euro-skeptics had hoped for, nor the triumph claimed by many of the EU advocates. The reality is more nuanced, with small victories, defeats and re-directions that defy absolute categorizations. The revolutionary plan for the EU is still in the works. Many of its greatest threats have failed to materialize or make a great impact. At the same time its power structure is significantly undermined.

Decline of Merkel, rise of Macron

In Germany the staunchly pro-EU Angela Merkel was devastated by the ascendency of the far-right AFD (Alternative for Germany). Over her years in power, Merkel has drifted steadily to the left, leaving a conservative vacuum. That void was exploited when the AFD rallied popular opposition to her disastrous immigration policies. The elections left her in office, but only barely. Now even her former allies are backing out, fed up with their own lack of popularity after years of living in her shadow.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron

Merkel leaves the leadership of the EU to Macron

The result: The on-going four-month long struggle to cobble together even the semblance of an effective government. In the meantime, the EU finds itself without the accustomed security of its strong German master. That Germany has been the head of Europe is a widely acknowledged fact. That this leadership is now faltering is equally unsettling to a Europe accustomed to turn to Berlin.

The media, as pro-EU as ever, is crowing with joy at the mere possibility of Merkel forming a new coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD). Yet, even if the coalition is formed – which is not a certainty, it will be the weakest German government in decades. After over 12 years in power her time seems up.

Taking advantage of the situation, France's new president Emmanuel Macron set in motion massive reforms in his country while calling abroad for a bold new push in the never-ending drive for a more integrated European government.

Even if France fails to outstrip Germany’s economic dominance, Macron is beginning to fill Merkel’s void in the EU political leadership. If he has his way, France will become a partner with Germany, constituting a leadership team to pull the other EU members down the road towards a centralized United States of Europe.

Opportunism of the EU

Toward this end, Merkel's party the CDU and the Social Democrats (SPD) started coalition talks for a new government in January 2018, with aims of reaching an agreement.

Schulz and Merkel

Difficult negotiations have gone on for four months, leaving Germany without an effective government

The key to understand the importance of the German coalition talks lies in the concessions Merkel made to woo the SPD into an alliance with her own party. These negotiations have already taken months with little result: In practice, as I write these notes, Germany still does not have an effective government. Even though the SPD agreed to forge an alliance, their action will have to be approved by the party's rank and file, which will not take place until mid-March. The demission two days ago of one the architects of the coalition, the SPD leader Martin Schulz, does not seem to accelerate an accord.

This coalition supposes that several vital ministries of the German government be given to the SPD, most importantly the Ministry of Finance. Due to Germany’s economic hegemony in Europe, a SPD finance minister essentially will play the role of arbiter of European economics. Putting this position into the hands the socialists will virtually guarantee German monetary support for the radical centralizing of the EU that Macron is proposing.

Once in control of finances, the SPD will be more than ready to implement Macron’s ideas for a financially integrated Europe. In such a case, the plan continues for the rich countries to bail out the poor, creating an economic bloc that will more effectively operate as a single entity. This will constitute a milestone in the socialist erosion of traditional western establishments that has been occurring over the past several decades.

Rumblings of discontent

The rise of the AFD is merely a symptom of the growing disaffection of many Europeans with odious EU policies. From its ceaseless regulations to its self-perpetuating bureaucracy, but especially the decree that Europe must accept migrants, there is a significant portion of European society chaffing against the EU and its heavy handed ‘Brussels knows best’ policies.

Sebastian Kurz

Kurz elected in Austria for his opposition to the EU, changed to fit into the EU agenda; below, being kissed by EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker

Sebastian Kurz with Jean Claude Juncker
When the EU held an official poll on what direction the European government should take, citizens were denied the right even to suggest it should be dismantled. Mainstream media has proven patently incapable of presenting alternative political positions fairly. A deficit in transparency, objectivity and democracy has driven many voters to dissent. Some even compare the rigid ideology of the EU to that of the former USSR.

Throughout Europe national elections have manifested symptoms of discontent. In Austria the young Sebastian Kurz rose to power, taking a hard-line position against EU mandated immigration and allying with the nation’s far-right party. Popular governments in Poland and Hungary continue to defy Brussels. The Czech prime-minister rails against how Berlin, Paris and the European Commission are the de facto rulers of the European Union. Even Italy threatens that it may leave if the EU does not treat its southern members more fairly.

With such malignant instabilities eating away at its roots, the situation is ripe for a decisive shift in European politics. While few are openly advocating for the actual end of the EU, a crippling opposition to proceeding with the European Project in its current form has surged. Ultimately it must integrate or disintegrate. The outcome preferred by those in power (Brussels, Macron and Merkel) is both consistent and clear: more centralized Europe and less national sovereignty.

The plan continues

With Britain leaving the EU, the latter is now free of its most powerful malcontent. Germany and France are at liberty to call for an upgraded EU without opposition from any powerful rival State, but their platform is vulnerable. The conditions for discontent persist. Dissident factions, while lacking the leadership of a single powerful personality, agitate against the increasingly distasteful rule of Brussels.

Merkel has lost her prestige. Her coalition deal is still contingent on a vote from the SPD grassroots. If this arrangement is approved, we will see a new push forward in European integration. Macron is waiting for it, preparing for France to lead the renewed charge in eroding national sovereignty, interests and identity.

What we are seeing is perfectly consistent with the inexorable trend of European centralization made by a caste of oligarchs. With the timed rise of Macron and the enabling finances of the German economic giant, we see that a European super-state may be not impeded by the faltering of Merkel.

To be continued
Posted February 16, 2018

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