Is Humpty Europe going to fall?

Posted September 17, 2015 on 5:30 pm | In the category Europe, Germany | by Mackenzie Brothers

Like the fate of Humpy Dumpty, the decline and fall of the European Union – an event that has been long predicted by Euroskeptics – seems to be  gathering steam  from the southern Hungarian border to the English Channel. It is actually too early to proclaim that the Union, that had been so remarkably successful in tearing down the previously carefully guarded national borders of Europe, is just about to fall, but it has certainly moved closer to the edge, and if it goes over it is certain that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never put Humpty Europe together again. And neutral observers are watching in horror as the walls between European states are being put back up, only 27 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And it is not because of the economic crisis that threatened European unity in the face of  the prospect of Greek bankruptcy (see the contribution of Mr. Jeff of July 14) which certainly didn’t help any sense of a united Europe, but was salvageable through masses amounts of money and also did not include the states that maintained their own currency, notably the UK and Scandinavia (minus Finland)

Now the fall is much more imminent because the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees – including many from the Balkans who are really economic refugees, and no doubt a fair number of potential terrorists from the war-torn Middle East and Africa – has literally torn away the platitudes that speak of European unity. For good reasons, the refugees want to end up in Germany or Sweden, or perhaps Austria, the only countries that have indicated they would welcome them,  But to get there they would have to get across the dangerous Hungarian-Serbian border that is now clearly marked with a razor-blade fence. The United Kingdom, which never signed the Schengen accord that opened European borders, has been markedly uninterested in providing safe haven that is remotely similar to its actions during World War Two. Smaller  wealthy countries like the Netherlands and Denmark have disrupted travel into or through their borders. Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and others are understandably very unhappy with the inevitable growth on their soil of very right wing anti-immigrant parties. Amazingly, 70 years after the war that it organized and lost catastrophically, only Germany (and perhaps Sweden) has made a convincing public stand that it would welcome open borders for the refugees.

This is no doubt to a large extent because of the convincing insistence of its leader, Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor in East Germany, that it is its moral duty to show a human face to desperate people in need. But Germany too now seems to be reaching its breaking point as it foresees as many as 1 million refugees  arriving on its soil by the end of the year  and has made no progress in getting other European countries, other than Sweden, to share the burden. While a very right wing party still seems out of the question in  once fascist-controlled Germany, the prospect of a truly welcoming arrival for so many refugees in one country also seems more and more to be a naive prognosis. Germany too will have a great deal of domestic (and economic?) problems hosting such gigantic numbers.  There is still some time for Europe to get its act together, but it seems increasingly probable that the various performers will be able to act as an ensemble.

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  1. I am just catching up with the blog after weeks of stressing over The Donald! The Mackenzies are right to view the refugee issue as symptomatic of serious strains on the European grand experiment. And right too to focus on Merkel’s admirable role in addressing the refugee crisis. The U.S. Republican Party is, of course, leading the battle to keep everyone else out of the country, including former candidate Scott Walker’s proposal for a fence across the U.S. Canadian border. One question is whether all of the East europena countries are mature enough to be full members of the EU and that question will play out, especially in the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland and especially Hungary. As for the former Yugoclavia, there is always the risk fo reminding everyone of some battle lost in the 16th century.

    Comment by jeff — September 30, 2015 #

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