Europe's Bright Future: As Good as it Gets

An Essay on Europe. By Martin Nangle

“Jews know why this wall was built,” he said. I looked at him. This young man who had engaged a conversation was most likely the only person on the Berlin tram that crisp '89 November morning who thought as such.
I was there as a photojournalist enjoying the electric buzz of the fall. A generation removed from the European War, I did not share his dangers of German reunification.
It was the end of history. No not history. The end of “A” history. History does not stand still, it comes to a concurrent conclusion by sowing the seed for a new one.

It's remarkable to experience the birth of ones own history and the closing of the previous one started by my grandfather's generation. He was captured at the Somme in 1916 and sat out that conflict on a farm in Southern Germany. Lucky for him and lucky for me. I suppose.
What my mind discovered, walking the streets of Berlin over the following days, was a simple description of one's own history. It belongs to a couple of generations, if it is not your story then it is not your responsibility and getting involved is mostly a matter of choice.
What I didn't consider was the man's statement on the tram. That came later during my tours of post Soviet Empire, The Levant, Yugoslavia and Brussels.

Declaration of the European Union in '92 was major part of the new history. We were the original “Big society, all in it together, united in diversity.” We had purpose and a future.
But times following the declaration soon grew dark and weary. Eastern Balkan Europe was a bleak outpost feeding off EU handouts and benevolence. Bosnia showed the true nature of Europe's sinister past left to me by my grandfather.

Europe was anything but an organically grown community embracing a long awaited family reunion. In fact it was the exact opposite. It resembled more a quarrelsome prison of inmates motivated by envy, self interest and often loathing for others. Only, to come together when faced with a mighty external threat to survival and order.
It was then I experienced the law of raw naked corruption as a way getting things done. Every operation including meals, road trips and overnight stays factored in the backhander and the rip off. It would have been tedious had I not been on expenses.

My respect then for this type of European leadership was not very high. However it was possible to still be enjoying the daily ambience of New Europe while keeping one eye on how the mysterious European Union was dishing out the funds. It looked as if the West at least had realised Europe's chance was acceptance of a democratic shared space for very different social groups and cultures. Dominance was to become a negative policy for modernity. Mankind forever weak and cruel needed new moral guidance. Human existence was a simple freak of nature, society a total human creation. God is just not part of it.

At the heart of Europe's future, Germany 2012 is split on which direction
Europe should take. A time for agreed unity. Picture Nov '89
Europeans are not alike and more to the point they don't want to be. There is an affinity with the term Western or Eastern European. As such, it is a mistaken concept to forcibly merge them into a European nation which doesn't and probably will never exist. “United in Diversity” is as close as it gets to defining the Modern European era. Who will believe they are in a fair and sharing nation when disparities in political and economic realities exist. And, where hostilities are presented to each other over free movement, right to work and right to reside in a place of one's choosing. Walls exist in Europe.

The rampant corruption which so marred the first decade of the EU showed the human side of the scramble to lift war torn Europe out of the doldrums.
German reunification cost more than what was in the kitty. The early introduction of a flawed currency union could provide the necessary export market to resurge Germany back to pre war levels. Enter the Euro.

While the hard working Germans got on with the job. The means to bind Europe into one nation got started in earnest. Through a series of treaties, referendums, re-starts and re-runs, the vast bureaucratic machine in Brussels proceeded to forge tools for a remake of divided Europe. The goal was clear. Create a unified European Superstate for the 21st Century. Brussels finally found the tool it needed in the city of Lisbon.

By the time I reached Brussels in early '09 to experience the corridors of power, a harsh realness was over-running my unfettered support for all things post communism, including my euphoric rush towards a Superstate.

Somewhere along the line the leadership had become detached from the crew on the ship of Europa 27. It was as if this ship at sea had finally reached a paradise island they had for decades been searching. This leadership had then mounted a small boat to go and check it out.
From the deck of the ship the crew observed the returning boat becoming stationary on the water. What was the leadership discussing. That it is better to be chasing after utopia rather than actually finding it. What was given to Europe after the war was a dream and only the pursuit of this dream would ensure peace and prosperity.

Or was it more a pragmatic discussion about self preservation for the growing Brussels bubble. What I learnt there was that these appointed officials, none of whom are accountable to parliament and the people, who abdicate any duty of responsibility should their position or decisions be questioned had destroyed any credibility of the idea Europe could be governed from Brussels, as a single unified and political entity.

The Federalist camp was taking a battering across the land. Our disappointed generation returned closer towards the nation states of my grandfather. Germania Magna was back. This time as as a powerful and dedicated democracy. Friendly and committed to peace. It was not about to throw away freedom and wealth to a morphing bureaucratic dictatorship resembling the very authoritarian system the noble Europe project set out to destroy in 1947.

If the Euro is just a means to an end for Germany to regain its strength, then the search for the perfect Europe needs to continue as a means to a never ending dream. It maybe ironic that Europe is compared to a ship condemned to roam the rough and swollen seas in search of a promised land, but while the threat of sinking is real, the crew will fight to survive. In actuality, to put down this ships crew on an paradise island is for certain a conflict in waiting.

Europe, it is often said, flourishes in troubled periods. The financial crisis has exposed much deep and worrying weakness in supporting a fickle call to political unity none fully understand. The short comings of an unaccountable team of irresponsible people wielding unlimited power is changing the way society views European affairs. What has emerged from the crisis is the important realisation it is the role of the main sovereign countries to constantly supervise and team manage the continent on behalf of its citizens. The Berlin statement now made some sense.