Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Not dead, honest – or, why the eurozone crisis demonstrates that the nation state is no longer politically/economically viable

Just insanely busy in the real world. For ongoing EU / eurozone crisis comment (etc.) from me, your best bet is to follow me on Twitter.

That said, this post’s original, short title (“Not dead, honest”) could refer to the eurozone as much as it does me.

Naturally enough, though, don’t expect me to come up with any magic bullets to solve this ongoing economic shitstorm (that’s the technical term for it, I understand). No one else has, after all. The best I can do is criticise *everything* – which is hardly very constructive.

The more I read about the various proposed solutions (cut stuff! merge stuff! spend more! spend less! suck up to China! leave the poorer countries to fend for themselves! let banks/countries default! stop defaults at all costs!), the more I watch the hesitancy and lack of imagination of Europe’s political leaders (oooh! another bailout – how original!), the more I see the refusal by anyone to accept responsibility for the mess (hint: we’re *all* to blame for getting into a complacent and unsustainable cycle fuelled by debt both national and personal which none of us had worked out repayment plans for, and which the lenders handed over without sufficient checks – the people are as much to blame as the politicians and the bankers for letting it happen in the hope of massive profits on minimal effort), the more I realise that there *is* no solution.

Not a national one, at any rate. There are simply too many extra-national forces at work here that are beyond anyone’s control. Yet so far there’s so very little coordination of governmental response. Everyone is looking inwards, to their own countries. Everyone is pointing accusatory fingers at others beyond their own borders, when what they need to be doing is extending helping, cooperative hands.

The world is too interconnected for this insular thinking. A crisis that started in the US has affected almost every country on the planet. A single, tiny economic basket-case like Greece can put an entire continent on the brink of collapse.

This is the perfect illustration of just why supranational organisations are so vital – had the EU had the power (and will) to stand up to the national politicians and stick to its rules, this coordination could have been imposed. With the current set up, as no one can agree, nothing can be done. (We still wouldn’t have known what to do if we’d got more powerful supranational institutions, but at least we’d all have been doing it together… That concerted unity alone could well have proved enough to give the markets back their confidence – it’s the uncertainty that’s killing us as much as the lack of direction.)

Naturally, greater cooperation alone won’t be enough – mostly because it’s already too late. And I’d be amazed if we aren’t still seeing the effects of this crisis in some countries in a decade’s time.

But where this crisis most certainly has exposed plenty of flaws in the EU’s makeup, it’s done far, far more damage to the concept of national independence, national sovereignty. If even the world’s most wealthy, powerful country can be hit by the problems in tiny Greece – and every scare in the eurozone has been reflected on Wall Street – what hope does *any* country have on its own?

The half measures and hesitations of the EU’s response so far can *all* be put down to national political reluctance to act – Sarkozy and Merkel eyeing elections, everyone else too worried about domestic upheaval to care about their fellow EU member states. It’s the same attitude we’ve always seen from politicians when a global economic crisis hits – but it’s no longer one that works. Glorious isolation is not an option.

What good is nominal sovereignty when an external economic shockwave can bring an entire country to the brink of bankruptcy?