Paul studied political philosophy at the University of Leicester in England. He currently works as a freelance writer in Florida.
The European Union has come under increasing stress in recent years and has shown definite signs of fracturing.
Issues arising from the economic crash of 2008, the increase in asylum seekers desiring residence in the EU, and the UK's vote to leave the organization have all taken their toll.
Most EU countries now have populist political leaders and parties ready to take advantage of the disillusionment among large segments of the population, and it is not at all certain that the EU will survive.
Many experts and commentators are predicting its imminent demise based on economic, social, and political flaws.
Below are 20 reasons why I believe the EU will fall apart.
1. The central aim of the EU to create political union is misguided. The countries of Europe have their own separate histories and cultures and many people do not want to exchange their nation identities for a European one. In fact it appears that the EU may be achieving the opposite of its stated intentions and actually fueling extreme nationalism.
2. Another issue is that the historically protestant areas of northern Europe (countries such as Germany, the Benelux countries etc.), the Mediterranean countries (e.g. Greece, Italy, Spain), and the Eastern former-Communist countries (Poland, Hungary, etc.) all have very different economies, due to historical and cultural differences, as well as levels of wealth and earnings. Their economies are essentially incompatible.
3. Because Germany is the most powerful country economically, there is a tendency for them to impose their economic model on other less powerful countries with different economic cultures, sometimes with disastrous consequences. An example of this is Greece, which has gone into dramatic economic decline, partly due to Germany effectively imposing austerity cuts in return for loans.
4. There is a lack of democracy in the EU. Most of the big changes are decided by national governments, not by the European Parliament, or directly by the people of the EU. In many countries, all the main political parties historically are pro-EU, so there is a sense that Europe will do whatever it wants, whoever people vote for.
5. The Schengen Agreement, which allows freedom of movement between European countries without border checks is causing serious issues, with terrorists and illegal immigrants exploiting the lack of controls.
6. On top of Schengen, the EU has struggled to secure its external borders, allowing uncontrolled immigration with only limited controls. Once inside the EU, immigrants can move between many European countries with little or no controls.
7. It is a bureaucracy of epic proportions, with money wasted left, right, and center. Nobody wants to take responsibility for imposing discipline and making it more lean and efficient.
8. It is slow to react to crises, having to consult multiple different countries and organizations before any agreements or actions can be implemented.
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9. The economic and social pressures created by mass immigration, especially with countries like Germany accepting thousands of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, is bound to cause problems in the short, medium, and long term. Immigration on such a grand scale is at best a jump into the dark.
10. The expansion of the EU into Eastern Europe was a mistake. As well as having very different economies, their values are different. Governments in the former Communist countries tend to more authoritarian. They are also less cosmopolitan and multi-cultural in their mentality than Western Europe. Expanding into Eastern Europe has also increased tensions with Russia.
11. Despite the intentions of the EU to merge economies, few if any individual countries will ever give over the power to tax and spend to European institutions.
12. The EU was originally designed to function with a small number of similar countries in post-war Western Europe. Over-expansion and the incorporation of countries with very different cultures and economies means that it can no longer work.
The European Union is very popular with politicians, because it's very good to politicians. It was created for their benefit. It's not so good to voters, because it denies them a voice - another reason it's popular with politicians. These days, we in Europe no longer make most of our own laws. We have them handed down to us by people we haven't elected and can't remove. The people we do elect are powerless to change anything, even if they wanted to...
— Pat Condell, YouTube video
13. The big countries, especially Germany and France, tend to dominate the EU politically, often agreeing decisions between each other before including others, leading to problems of legitimacy and resentment from other countries.
14. Britain's decision to leave the EU is a severe blow to the organization on many levels. Psychologically it's a blow, because it was never envisaged that countries would want to leave. Economically it hurts, because Britain has a big economy and London is a major international center of trade. Politically it encourages euro-skeptical leaders and parties in other EU countries to be more assertive.
15. Some EU decision making requires a consensus between all the countries. This leads to policies being watered-down or problems being kicked down the road, rather than being dealt with in a decisive manner.
16. The European Social Model of capitalism struggles to compete with Chinese and American style models, which offer fewer protections for workers but lower costs.
17. Free movement of labor across national borders means that workers from poorer countries can travel to wealthier ones and effectively undercut the wages of the local population. This can cause resentment and unemployment.
18. Despite the ideal of a free market, protectionism still continues in some countries. France, for instance, protects its farming industry from the full impact of open competition.
19. The original aims of the European project were to: prevent the spread of communism after WWII; make it difficult for the Soviet Union to invade Europe; and stop wars and conflict between Western European nations, Communism and the old Soviet Union are now gone. NATO provides the necessary protection against Russian aggression. Wars between Western European nations seem like a very unlikely prospect in the modern world. The EU is largely an anachronism.
20. EU proponents argue that being a member of the EU gives countries a much stronger negotiating platform when it comes to trade deals, but the truth is that EU negotiations tend to be cumbersome and time-consuming. Bilateral agreements between countries could be made much quicker and be catered more closely to the needs of the individual countries, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of the EU. Trade deals also often result in cheaper goods and labor coming in and undermining the interests of European workers and companies.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.