June 07, 2009

Does the EU Know that It Exists?

After the American Century

Today ends the election of representatives to the EU's equivalent of parliament or Congress. It has been a sad spectacle in Denmark. I heard many candidates during the past few weeks, but I did not hear anything wise or even very intelligent about the European Union. To judge by the tenor of the discussions, Danes have no idea what the EU does, or what they are electing people to do. Worse, they seem to send two kinds of candidates, those who are nearing retirement or people who are rather young and wet behind the ears.

From this, I can only conclude that Danes do not really understand that the EU exists. It is more like a hypothesis or an idea that is being tried mostly elsewhere. There are still politicians getting a serious hearing in this country who want to withdraw from the union.

Much the same seems to be the case in many other countries. Voter turnout is low, apathy about issues common, and confusion about the point of the exercise rampant. The situation is much as it was in the United States in about 1830. Loyalty then remained to the state, at least as much as to the nation.

What will the EU do if it faces a real military or foreign policy crisis? If people scarcely know it exists, they are not going to fight and die for it if necessary to keep it alive.