How has the EU failed? In this, the final
episode in this series about the EU, we tie up all the loose ends I wasn’t able to cover
in the other episodes. Mainly Brexit and the Migration Crisis. These are recent developments
and without a lot of data, please keep that in mind. So, what are the EU’s failures?
Euroscepticism. Why is there so much hatred towards the EU? There are several reasons.
For one, the EU doesn’t communicate with its citizens. Have you ever been informed
about the EU on the news or at school? Most of us haven’t. European politicians barely
even communicate with national politicians on what they do. Even if someone told you
the benefits of the EU, they are still pretty hard to grasp as you’d need an economics
degree to fully comprehend them. It is no coincidence that the country which perceives
the least benefits from the EU, decided to leave the EU. Most people don’t see NEED
for further integration and so we see people such as Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders, and Marine
Le Pen who want to set their country on a course outside the EU for a fear they become
a state in a United States of Europe. What if countries might next be expected to hand
over control over their taxation, their military, or their diplomatic policy? The bastion of
Eurosceptic sentiment can be found, mainly, with those who have not benefitted from Europeanisation
or globalisation: those in the countryside who don’t travel abroad, those who lost
their jobs due to automation and cheap labour from abroad, those who fear other cultures
destroying their own country. It’s easy to show the flaws of the EU and
Eurosceptic politicians often do. In recent years, their attention was focussed on the
migration crisis. In 2011 Syria and Libya erupted in civil war and millions fled, traveling
to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq… and EU countries such as Greece. As you remember from last
episode, Greece was in an economic crisis and couldn’t possibly handle THIS many refugees.
It asked help from other European countries but they basically shrugged and said ‘not
my problem’. Until Italy and Greece were fed up with it and gave asylum to thousands
of refugees, letting them through their borders. You see, the EU has open borders, meaning
you can travel from southern Italy to anywhere else in the EU. Most didn’t want to stay
in Italy and Greece, they wanted to go rich Northern Europe. The open border treaty, Schengen,
states that refugees should be processed in the countries where they first arrive. Meaning
Spain, Italy, and Greece received the bulk of refugees while Denmark, for example, received
almost none. But now these refugees COULD travel to the rest of Europe… and now the
EU FINALLY took notice. The German Chancellor announced all refugees are welcome in Germany.
Millions travelled across Europe in the hope for a safe haven. They resided in asylum centres,
stuck between borders, or in makeshift refugee camps. Europe never put a system in place
to process so many people at once, this failure was like throwing wood on the Eurosceptic
fire. Fearmongering that this was ‘an invasion of Islam’, ‘thousands of terrorists will
come to Europe’, and ‘they are not REAL refugees’ has led to politicians who used
to be background voices spring into the spotlight. But this is just fearmongering: only a few
million refugees came to Europe, less than 1% our population. Most terrorism comes from
citizens, not refugees. And while the deaths of these people are tragic, let’s remember
that lighting kills more people than terrorists do in the EU. Terrorists are pathetically
bad at killing people. And, these are pictures of Syria… yeah, they are ‘REAL’ refugees.
And lastly, there are the smaller issues facing EU countries I want to quickly address: the
brain drain of the poorest EU countries. Open borders are an economic boom to most EU countries
but to Romania or Bulgaria it means doctors, technicians, and business people leave the
country, making it impossible to grow the economy to become a rich country. There are
also cultural differences: the north sees the south as lazy and the south sees the north
as too strict. The rich west sees the east as them stealing westerners’ jobs while
the east sees the west as domineering. Some countries are very liberal while others are
conservative. All hindering EU prosperity as political leaders have to keep their own
population happy above the greater good of all of Europe.
So is the EU bad? Well, that depends. The EU is a great idea of cooperation and an end
to war yet the EU is unnecessarily bureaucratic, inefficient, and ruled too much by Germany.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the EU in 2012 and many similar organizations have
sprung up elsewhere in the world such as the African Union, Caribbean Community, or AFTA.
These organizations have in turn brought peace to their regions. Thanks to the African Union,
Africa is much more democratic and wars between countries have almost stopped. Europe has
become a template for other regions. In closing: The EU is run terribly, but its
ideas, its ideals are pure. The EU needs many reforms, as pro and anti EU people can both
agree on. But never forget that the countries in the EU have finally seen an end to the
flame of war.