EU Mistakes and Lessons for Future Eurasian Union

15:00 10.08.2012 • Yuri Gavrilechko , political scientist (Ukraine)



The globalization actually encompasses all aspects of private and social life. It also has a dramatic and miserable side of the coin: the differentiation of society, the breakup of traditional interpersonal ties (the decline of family values is a bright example), the growing isolation of individual in the “global” world… 

The current economic crisis has clearly demonstrated the instability of existing models of governance and generated the breakdown of many social and government structures. The process has brought to surface the fact that there is no adequate outlook model that would define the state of contemporary society and offer further development options.
Not a single “ism” term does present a view of the processes affecting human life. Old economic models and patterns of governance are no good for coping with crises, far from it, they don’t even serve the purpose in the times of relative tranquility… 
No doubt, the developed countries are affected to greater extent. The developing states are still subject to illusion related to neoliberal capitalist models. It’s only the threat that such a supra-state entity as the European Union would break up, something becoming more imminent with each passing month, that makes some individuals think about what has led to such a situation and look for answers outside the exclusively economic models. 
The shifts in shaping the outlook brought about by Soviet Union’s breakup present an intriguing example. Integration was a defining process inside the European Union, the citizens of member countries felt like they belonged to something larger than just a group of European states. The shaping of the “greater Europe” concept was coming to the final phase; a EU citizen represented the great powerful European culture. The United Europe made fade away the state borders, a single currency was introduced, the laws were unified and cultural differences became blur. As a result it made possible for an average European to view the world from the position of EU citizen, not only a citizen of Germany, France, Poland or Italy …
At the same time something quite the opposite was taking place in the former Soviet Union: new borders appeared, new currencies were introduced, new constitutions and laws appeared, the attention of the former USSR citizens was focused on cultural and historic differences, history was rewritten.
All of it still continues. But now the differences affect the groups of people that become smaller and smaller. Regional, ethnic, cultural and other kinds of separatism are on the rise. At the same time, like in the EU, globalization was going strong in the former USSR: technical equipment, clothes, foodstuffs and the whole pattern of everyday urban life were being standardized. Actually everything, except living standards, has become very much the same in Europe and in the countries of post-Soviet space. Now it has come to the surface that, unlike in Europe, significant degradation of world outlook has taken place among the citizens of former Soviet Union states during the last twenty years. While Europeans have expanded their conscience from the walls of their houses to the European Union space, quite the opposite thing was taking place among those who lived in the post-Soviet countries. 
Even in the times of crisis crossing Europe is not a big thing for an average European. English serves as a language uniting all Europeans, there is no border control and visas, there are practically common laws in force as well as the single currency – it all makes possible going to any EU country without any hitches on the way. House rent instead of buying accommodation of your own makes it possible for a European to choose the place he or she likes to live and work in while being free from limitations imposed by the state boundaries.
Unlike in the case of average European, this kind of mobility is unachievable for the majority of former USSR citizens. Practically the border guards of any border, be it your country or another, will be happy to plunder you. It’s not an easy thing to exchange currency when you go abroad. The language you speak will be refused to be understood even by those who know it. If you speak English it’s not guaranteed they will understand you. If you try to get an official job in another state your employer will face a pile of hindrances and you’ll get the whole lot of unforgettable sensations. That’s what makes a large part of naïve people living in the Commonwealth of Independent States willing to join the European Union where no such problems exist. To great extent these everyday life difficulties become the best advocate for joining the EU (the factor makes pale whatever politicians may come up with). 
The five years of economic crisis have shown the very existence of a supranational entity based exclusively on “general welfare state” becomes questionable as soon economic woes step in. 
Not only economists and politicians but an average man on the street recognizes a possibility of member state leaving the European Union due to inability to keep up with its high existing high economic standards as well as because the taxpayers of better off countries have to shoulder the burden of supporting those who lag behind. 
The perception was more an exclusion than a norm while it was related to Greece only. When Spain’s, perhaps even Italy’s, membership started to be questionable it became clear the association based exclusively on economy and politics (without ethno-cultural unity) could hardly be stable and of long duration just because it satisfied the citizens basic needs. 
On the one hand, the existing difficulties were engendered by existence of national governments, parliaments, budgets. On the other hand, the European administrative unification: common parliament, common government, common budget, common fiscal policy and common legal system still have no adequate theoretical foundation. Even feeling “like a European” an average man still doesn’t understand the purpose of changes in question. 
Besides, there is an internal destabilizing factor that is influencing more and more the sentiments of Europeans. It’s the existence of ethnic and cultural ghettos in European states. 
These are the ghettos created by Europeans themselves. The ghettos populated by people who have no whatsoever relation to European culture, many of them speak no European languages, they don’t work and don’t want a job, there is no whatsoever intention on their part to integrate into European cultural and economic environment. The spongers exist at the expense of European taxpayers trying to do their best to expand the boundaries of the ghettos where they feel in their element living in the environment they are accustomed to. 
On their part these parasites enhance the risk of EU breakup not even guessing they’re digging a grave for themselves, no way will they be able to live like that after the EU disintegrates. If fascism becomes a dominating ideology of the European Union (the fascist ideas answer the question what common parliament, government, armed forces are for), then it becomes highly probable the ghetto dwellers will be simply eliminated. 
The consumer paradise breaks up when credits stop. The majority of European states don’t earn their own living anymore…
Any alternative to the European Union (and the Eurasian Union may be the one) should possess something more than just the ways to provide for comfortable existence of its citizens like the EU does. And it’s not only an economic model that provides for autonomous existence using only the internal resources while keeping away from postmodern concepts of all sorts, that today are exclusively based on assiduousness of Chinese who are ready to receive unsecured papers for their labor. A searched for alternative to the European Union should first of all have a goal that would make it last in all times. The EU doesn’t have one; no such goal was required for comfortable existence of EU citizens, now it’s too late to look for it “in haste”. 
Only the goal that is part of cultural tradition can bring people together and offer a model of development leading to the future people really want ready to apply efforts, spend time and sometimes even commit acts of self-sacrifice to reach it. If there is no goal or the goal set is not worthy, a breakup of any association is inevitable. Any crisis spurs disintegration leading to a chain of separatisms dwindling in scale. 
The deeper is a crisis, the deeper is separatism. Gradually it will encompass the human communities structures becoming more and more simple and going down from the level of nation-state. 
The idea of unification should be an organic part of cultural tradition, so the first phase of alternative integration project to the EU should be a system of creating and propagating archetypes of stated goal. Only after they become part of cultural tradition, the model could be strengthened by economic and political concepts. But the idea goes first. It should be found. No further deliberations are expedient without it. The one to offer the idea along with its organizational pattern will rule the world.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of editorial


read more in our Telegram-channel