The world’s eyes are on the United Kingdom as the reality of their decision slowly sets in. Things took an unexpected turn of events when the UK narrowly voted to leave the European Union (EU). Now as the UK scrambles to gather itself one can only wonder what will happen to the EU. This decision has created a wave of rebellion as other European nations mull over the idea of leaving the EU. In light of this mess, I think it would be safe to say that EU as a whole is unsustainable.
To be fair, I used to think that it was a great way of unifying the continent. Like most things, I grew out of that love struck phase and realized that there was no way the EU could last forever. Before I delve into my feelings, I think we should start at the very beginning. The EU is the largest politico-economic union in the world. It has 28, possibly soon to be 27, member states and allows for free trade, work and movement of people. The EU has created an internalized single market, a universal currency and a set of laws that apply to all the member states. It was created as a means of fully integrating Europe and reducing the possibility of another war.
Now I would like to point out that the EU has achieved some good on the continent. It brought peace to a region that was constantly quarrelling. Its single market allowed for greater integration and made the lives of many European’s easier. Member states have to consistently adhere to the union’s human rights policy if they want to remain members. The EU has also improved air and water quality as part of its aim to preserve the environment.
Despite all of this, the EU is still flawed. Firstly, there’s the issue of having a single market that inevitably needs a single tax rate. Why would anyone think this would work? How would the EU possibly maintain a tax rate that suits all of its 28 (27) members? On top of that, the single currency is only effective when the entire region has some sort of financial stability. With a portion of the continent undergoing a financial crisis, I think we can all agree that this cannot end well. Secondly, the single currency is irreversible. So if one country finds that the Euro isn’t exactly what they need, they can’t leave it behind. This single currency concept seems like a prison more than a chamber for free trade.
Let’s not forget the fact that the EU offers loans and bailouts to struggling member states. While this is great and somewhat productive, the EU has austerity measures for members that fail to get their economies in check. Example A: Greece. Greece is just a mess, and part of the reason it’s such a mess is because the EU is acting like a principal rather than a friend. The EU has lent Greece so much money and has pressured the Greek government to employ austerity measures to ensure that the bailouts are repaid. These measures have not only worsened the lives of many Greeks but they have also led to a spike of violence against immigrants and refugees. So essentially, the EU has the power to control the policies in other states. That’s an abuse of power and an ineffective method of governance. I still wonder why this union exists.
Then there’s the issue of extensive regulation and centralization. The EU has regulated and centralized almost all of the sectors in the region. The EU regulates the very essence of these member states. Can you imagine that? You want to do something and you have to consider all of the EU’s policies and regulations. That’s like having your grandmother’s neighbour telling you how to live. No wonder some of the member states are keen on leaving the union. Following the UK’s decision, there has been unrest among other members and suggestions that they might leave the union. If I hadn’t known the consequences of a decision like that I would leave too.
Bottom line is that the European Union, in theory, might have seemed like a good idea. Maybe it was the best idea at the time. However, its policies and principles have only harmed the continent and created unrest within member states. That kind of unification takes way the individual voices of the member states. Although the UK’s decision to leave is still hazy, it wasn’t unwarranted. At this point it isn’t clear what will happen to the EU but it’s treading on unsteady ground.