Scenario 3: The EU collapses

This is an extract from Tony Czarnecki’s book: ‘Democracy for a Human Federation’

In this case some steps towards federalization may have been made. However, they would have taken a very long time (past 2030). The longer the federalization is put off the higher the risk that it may not happen at all, and the EU collapses or shrinks to a relatively small federated state.

Anyone who thinks that the collapse of the EU is an exaggeration should be reminded how close the Eurozone and indirectly the EU was already to such a momentous event on Monday morning at 6 am in Brussels on 13th July 2015. That was the moment when after 14 hours of dramatic talks the EU leaders decided they had reached a dead end on the Greece’s bailout deal in its Euro crisis. With no room for compromise, neither Mr Tsipras nor any of the other 27 leaders saw any reason to carry on. Grexit was the only realistic option. As Mrs Merkel and Mr Tsipras were leaving the room, it was Donald Tusk, the EU Council President, who made the very last attempt to prevent the Eurozone and possibly the EU from collapse, saying “Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room”. In a few more hours the bailout deal was agreed.

To avoid Grexit, Brexit, the EU collapse, or even worse – the European wars – it is worth quoting the fragments of an almost Cassandra-type speech by the former Polish Foreign Minister, Radek Sikorski in Berlin in 2011 when he said to his German hosts: “We are standing on the edge of a precipice. This is the scariest moment of my ministerial life but therefore also the most sublime… I fear German power less, than I am beginning to fear German inactivity”. And then this scaring scenario, which eight years ago seemed so improbable: “The break-up [of the Eurozone and the EU] would be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions beyond our financial system. Once the logic of ‘each man for himself’ takes hold, can we really trust everyone to act communitarian and resist the temptation to settle scores in other areas, such as trade? Would you really bet the house on the proposition that if the Eurozone breaks up, the single market, the cornerstone of the European Union, will definitely survive? After all, messy divorces are more frequent than amicable ones” [76].

Today, in view of the Euro crisis of 2014-2016, migration crisis 2015-2016, Brexit and of course Covid-19, this scenario is far more plausible than we are willing to admit. So, the EU collapse can happen quite suddenly, especially if several critical events happen at the same time. After all, what I have been saying in this book several times, the world has stopped changing linearly. For the last few years, it has been changing at nearly an exponential pace. For example, in cancer and stem cell research, we have at least one fundamental discovery or a new potent drug every week. Think about the speed with which massive migration came to Europe, or how soon Technological Unemployment could be with us (in 20 years’ time there will be more robots on the planet than people), etc. The economic, political and military competition coming from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia etc. will be so powerful that Europe consisting of individual states, as now, will not withstand such pressures and will fall apart with potentially catastrophic consequences.

In Europe, the clear winner would be Russia. It would be emboldened by the weak EU and might try to annex either directly or indirectly the neighbouring territories, initially the Baltic Republics, the whole Ukraine and Moldova. Later on, it could paralyze the democratic processes of other countries, such as Scandinavia, Poland and South-Eastern Europe through the process known as ‘Finlandization’, which some of the readers may remember from the time of the cold war. It is commonly used in reference to Finland’s policies in relation to the Soviet Union during the Cold War (known as Paasikivi-Kekkonen doctrine). It referred to the decision of a country not to challenge a more powerful neighbour in foreign politics, while maintaining national sovereignty.

If the EU follows Germany’s current line, trying to find a cautious, middle ground, then it will only lead to procrastination of the necessary deep reforms of the EU governance, which may in turn create greater chaos. Some Central European countries such as Austria, Hungary or Poland might be governed for many years by very right-wing governments with ensuing chaos endangering international and dangerous states. As the Crimean annexation and the migration crises have shown, the EU is too indecisive to withstand a dramatic pace of change blowing from Africa and South East Asia in political, cultural and economic areas. We may yet see some horrific events linked to violent migration or revolutions in countries such as Germany, which is completely unprepared to withstand such pressures. If a federal EU does not happen in the next few years, it is highly likely that Europe will not survive such tensions coming from the Euro crisis, its relations with Russia, or massive migration. Therefore, the EU has no other option but to move fast forward towards federalisation or ‘towards ever closer Union’, as it is euphemistically worded in the Lisbon Treaty.