By William A. Thomas
The European Union expanded last year with the addition of 10 new nations, and it will continue to expand in the next 10 years with up to 20 new member states, not only in Europe, but in Asia Minor and beyond, perhaps as far as Israel.
The founders of the concept of the common market, namely Robert Schumann, Alcide de Gasperi and Jean Monnet, began with the concept of the union of Christian states within Western Europe with a "common agricultural policy." Now that the common market has evolved into the EEC, the EC and now the EU, will a new name be brought forward to indicate that it has expanded way beyond its original mandate ?
Firstly, it may be said that Europe is no longer a union of Christian states ; Christianity is no longer recognized in fact or in theory. France has decided to remove all crucifixes (as the ultimate sign of love, albeit paradoxically) from its schools. Italy was also in trouble earlier this year with the crucifix following the complaint of a 15-year-old Muslim girl that the .................
............. sight of the cross made her uncomfortable and hence a court ordered its removal.
Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have all lived like pagans with birthrates in the minuses, rampant consumerism, individualism, and all the other "isms" rolled up into one way of life that is effectively non-Christian. Europe has lost its Christian roots and faith. Now, with the addition of 10 countries in 2004, it may be asked what exactly new member states are entering into: The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus are all Christian countries in either orthodox or Catholic rites.
These countries have a rich tradition of cultures, history and religious belief based on the truth about God and not contingent on the debasement of man. All of these countries suffered the effects of war and some, 50 years of communism. Their citizens' hope lay in faith in God, and for many that was all they had ; now the EU wants to destroy even that.
The new constitution implicitly denies God by exclusion and denies that Europe is Christian, thereby trying to create a pagan union, a move that is being rejected by states such as Poland, Slovenia, Malta and Hungary.
The second failure of Europe will be the attempted creation of "a two-tier" Europe with two different economies, one rich and the other permanently poor, despite promises of jobs and subsidies, all doled out from Brussels.
Two-tier by definition means several things: It means one larger than the other, hence it is somehow not equal ; and it means the smaller one is on top of the larger one like a wedding cake. Eastern Europe is larger than Western Europe and is richer in diverse ways than other parts of the EU in that it has authentic culture and religion, not to mention its vast mineral wealth. But its greatest asset is its people.
A two-tier Europe will fail in as much as a pagan Europe will fail, and efforts by Frenchman Valery Giscard d' Estaing, who wrote the new European constitution, have also failed, because he went way beyond the mandate of its founders.
The modern European Union was set up on the Franco-Germanic axis of closer co-operation between these once-warring nations who wreaked havoc throughout all of Europe in two world wars. The principle works well and we have seen remarkable togetherness between France and Germany in the past 15 years with leaders holding hands at public events and now cabinet ministers sitting in each others' cabinets, where they have common goals and objectives.
Eastern Europe is not contingent on the Franco-Germanic axis for cooperation, and it was a mistake to pick a Frenchman or a German to write a constitution for expansion of the EU without the input of the greater part, namely Eastern Europe.
I firmly believe that a two-tier Europe will be the collapse of the EU as we know it. As it expands in one direction, in this case eastward, there is a diminution of power and concern in its western extremities. The EU should expand with no diminution of power or care for its people from any quarter.
I now realize that the west of Ireland was a testing ground for this two-tier Europe and many of the principles learned there will now be deployed in the rest of Europe : things like centralized health care. If you need a plaster on your big toe, you're OK ; any more than that, you will have to travel to Dublin (for cancer treatment, heart problems, etc).
In the two-tier Europe, Eastern Europe will have a totally different value structure, but will have to become dependent on many West European institutions like health care, education, and training being offered in Berlin or Amsterdam or Paris. As Europe becomes more complicated and larger, it will become even more inefficient that it is already. In a two-tier Europe you will have two different speeds; although you will have the euro you will have two different economies, and two fundamentally different standards and ways of life that will eventually cause strife and failure.
What then might be the solution to this conundrum ? In my opinion, the creation of an Eastern European Union (EEU), that is, the creation of a big sister to Brussels that would work at a different pace, with a different culture, but work toward the same goals. Both the EEU and the EU would be responsible to the European Parliament, but both will have two different administrative centers: one in Brussels and the other based in Europe's most strategic area, a crossroads between north, south, east and west with excellent road, rail, air and sea links: Where else but Belgrade ?
By creating an administrative East European headquarters in Belgrade to operate on the same level as Brussels, you eliminate the two-tier concept and actually create a two-lung concept that would create a more just and equitable society in both East and West. Both would follow each other and help each other toward a common market of both East and West.
The "two lungs" of Europe would still be based on the three pillars of Europe as defined by the founders, namely : the EC component that consists of rules governing the original forms of economic cooperation ; a common foreign and security policy ; and cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs.
Two lungs, yes, East and West working together, with a common destiny rather than what is proposed, which has already led to fractional infighting, with disagreements between the rotating presidency of the EU and the EU commissioner, and between one EU country and another and between the EU and the new members.
The common axis for EEU members would be a dependence on agriculture, farmed organically, and a common Slavic language except for Malta and Hungary, which speak English as does all of Eastern Europe. And finally, all new entrant countries would have Christianity, either Catholic or orthodox, but not Protestantism or secularism. This then is a rich mix of countries that can and should be allowed to be the second "lung" of Europe.
It would make eminent sense to consider this prospect.
Opinions are welcome ...........