What with Kosovo’s recent declaration of independence, we are witnessing the rapid balkanization (forgive the irony!) of Europe. Unification often spells fragmentation in the long run. And this is the very real danger facing the future European Union. The map shows how bad the fragmentation can really get…
Variety is the Spice…
At present, the EU numbers 27 states. If we’re honest about it, the infrastructure is wearing thin and the political and administrative structures of the EU are finding it hard to cope with the divergent demands of a body which has a joint population of nearly 500 million people speaking 170 languages (including regional and minority) with a variety of world views. The idea of a Union here seems bizarre at the very least.
There will come a time in the near future that the five major institutions of the EU (the Parliament; the Council; the Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors) will no longer be able to cope with the demands of such a varied population. In the near future Croatia, Kosovo and perhaps Serbia will join the EU. Perhaps even Turkey and Ukraine. There will come a time when the right hand will not know what the left hand is doing. Mini alliances and pacts will form to support regional interests. The idea of the EU will go out the window.
The motivation of joining the EU (i.e. the carrot) is one of the main reasons why the Balkan area has become relatively peaceful of late. But what happens when the Balkan states suddenly find themselves (yet again) in one (pseudo-) state? Why should the interests of a greater Europe be of more importance than the interests of Serbian nationalism, or even the interests of a ‘Greater’ Albania (with populations in Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia)? The EU were unable to prevent previous conflicts. How will they cope if a future conflict develops.
Reform & Constitution
The people arguing against an EU Constitution have no idea what is at stake. We need far-reaching and deep reforms of all EU institutions and we desperately need a constitution to regulate the future laws of a common European Union. The member states (and future member states) of the EU must decide whether they wish to work together as the members of a relatively weak alliance of countries, or as a more tightly-woven confederacy of states, or as a fully-fledged union of autonomous states who make decisions in unison for the greater good of the people living on the Old Continent. Either way, we, the citizens of Europe need to decide which way will secure a safer future.