Read the comments to any article that deals with the European Community and you’ll certainly find something to this tune:
“This is the end of the EU”
That might happen anytime, of course, but I’d still like very much to know why so many contemplate this possibility with so much glee? And I’m not talking here about those who think they have something to gain from a weaker Europe. Putin, for instance. Or Erdogan.
Why so many ordinary Europeans are so angry towards the very idea of a closely knit European Union?
How about reading the entire history of this continent as a long story of individuals striving hard to become more and more autonomous?
Some would say that Europe was about individuals becoming free, and I can agree with that. Only that freedom had strings attached.
“My freedom stops where your freedom begins”.
Meaning that none of us is really free unless each of us respects the liberty of all the others. That our individual liberties depend on each-other. Well, that’s the definition of autonomy, not that of ‘absolute freedom’ but let’s not be bogged down by words.
In fact what helped Europe become what it is today is an unique combination of ever growing individual freedom made possible by an ever stricter respect for the rule of law.
This was not at all a smooth process.
From time to time some individuals garnered a lot of liberty for themselves precisely by depriving all other of theirs and sometime even succeeded in writing this into law. For instance, until 1848 it was still lawful to own slaves in France.
Another type of ‘garnered’ freedom is what happens in a dictatorship. The dictator and his henchmen are freer than the rest of the people, but none of them as free as the people living in a truly free country. And Europe had witnessed a considerable number of dictatorships.
Which all eventually failed.
But something lingered in the collective memory of the Europeans. Their disdain for being told what to do. Their mistrust for rules imposed from above, for regulations that did not have the opportunity to become evident, through the passage of enough time, for those called to follow them.
This is why the ‘enthusiasm’ with which “l’aquis communautaire” was peddled by the Brussels bureaucrats to the new entrants has been met with such reticence.
This is why the measures being practically imposed by the more powerful members of the Union to the rest of the gathering are met with such scorn.
Very little real consideration is being given to the manner in which these measures are adopted and then communicated ‘from above’ and, simultaneously, very little attention is paid, by those called to put them in practice, to what their real effect would be – if they’d be applied in earnest.
As if we didn’t know any better.