The more power they get, the less popular they’ll be. That’s the inherent tension underlying the EU. But why is it true?
When you can only choose one policy for all of Europe, then that policy will fit badly somewhere. Europe is simply too diverse for one set of rules.
If you’re only making policy on things like agriculture, it’s not so bad. But extend your powers to taxation, spending, refugee policy, border policy and monetary policy, then you have more and more of a problem.
Italians are not like Germans. If you read a history of the various attempts to create a monetary union in Europe, which go back to the 19th century, you’ll notice that the Italians have a very long and illustrious history of being the first to muck them up. In the 70s and 90s the British repeatedly joined the Italians, so don’t get smug.
But in Italy, the problem runs deep. Italian politics relies on the ability to devalue the currency and bail out the government with monetary policy. It’s practically tradition. Just their way of doing things.
The EU tried to pretend this is not the case when it set up the eurozone system. It imposed spending limits and a common currency with tight monetary rules. It never worked in the past. It ain’t gonna work this time. The EU’s popularity and the popularity of the euro are suffering badly instead.
In eastern Europe, the population isn’t so migrant friendly. Perhaps because the migrant-friendly part of the population already left. Or perhaps because they have a proud history of defending the rest of Europe from invasion from the east.
Either way, a unified European refugee and immigration policy does not fit well with the east. In fact, it fits so badly that they just abandoned it. Countries are refusing to take refugees. Borders sprung up across Europe not long ago. I saw several myself. Austria and the Visegrad Group are forming organised resistance to Europe’s open border policy on both internal and external borders.
In my city of birth, the EU’s refugee policy is having a stark effect. The West German Allgemeine Newspaper is reporting that a fifth of schools in Essen have a proportion of migrants above 75%. Three schools have a migrant percentage above 90%.