The relentless pursuit of ever closer union has led to a wholesale destruction in the social cohesion of Mediterranean countries, and a lost generation that will take decades to be recovered
Europe as a political union is an experiment that has been tried time and again throughout history. Only three modern political states have managed to fuse together such a disparity of different cultures into a functional country – the USA, the USSR and China. And it is no coincidence that the only democracy in that list was built from newly formed states which shared a common cultural background (and even then required a civil war to settle things).
The model our European leaders chose to follow most closely resembles that of China. Founding father Jean Monnet espoused the idea of an elite cadre of bureaucrats, a meritocracy of men -and they are always men- being allowed to lead without worry or concern for populism from the masses. Monsieur Monnet was a career civil servant, and never once faced an election. A vast faceless bureaucracy riding rough-shod over local concerns, electing their own leaders from amongst their own ranks and with a token wave at democracy via the election of unaccountable MEP’s is his legacy.
EU Commission president Juncker is frank in his dismissal of democracy, whether insisting Eire re-run their 2001 referendum on his treaty of Nice to get the correct result or cowing the Greek government into abject surrender. He was at his most frank in 2005 when d’Estaing’s European constitution ran into rejection from the voters: “If it’s a yes we will say, ‘On we go’, and if it’s a no we will say, ‘We will continue.’”. They did, replacing it with the Lisbon treaty.
As always, we have the two sides of the coin – the ideals and the reality. The European ideals are laudable. The reality has morphed into something quite different – the destruction of a way of life, the loss of an entire generation, the shattering of families and the unravelling of social cohesion in the Mediterranean countries.
Starry eyed youths from northern European countries, protected from the harsh reality of life in the poorer states of the union, are lamenting their possible loss of freedom of movement, and I agree with them. But let us not mix the two concepts. Europe in its political union is fundamentally rotten.
According to the Spanish state the two most common positions offered in May 2016 were “salespeople in shops and warehouses” and “kitchen assistants”.
Nations emerging from decades of dictatorship – Spain, Portugal, Greece – or political instability such as Italy used the EU to stabilise their countries. The EU has been a strong anchor for these countries, but it came at the cost of losing economic and political freedom.
Which led directly the inability of those countries to restore their economies after the 2008 crash. With the richer European nations forcing a monetary policy upon these nations, a type of economic colonisation has been set in place where the richer northern nations suck upon their poorer southern cousins like a fruit bat upon an orange.
European integration helped cause the vast property bubble across southern Europe. Northern Europeans used their greater purchasing power to become international property investors. We all know the complex story. What many might not realise is that this building boom contributed to a vast education gap, as youths were seduced away from their studies into the building trade. Spain saw 32 percent of its youth leave school with no qualifications in 2008; Portugal 35 percent. In contrast, Germany only 11 percent, Sweden 8 percent.
And once the construction stopped, hundreds of thousands of young people were left with no trade and no study. Overnight an entire generation had no income, and often great responsibilities. And they helped to drag down their country, as part of the greater economic collapse.
European nations have been helpless to put into place any economic stimulus to help this generation. Leaders sat by while an entire generation grew up with no help, no future and no voice. In Spain, half of under-25’s who are working have no job. In Andalucía, it’s more than 60 percent. Those who have jobs find them to be menial ones.
According to the Spanish state employment agency’s website “Empléate”, the two most common jobs found across the nation in May 2016 were “salespeople in shops and warehouses” (75.192 job positions with a job stability of 16.76%) and “kitchen assistents” (44.108 job positions with a job stability of 8.54%). Trabajo de calidad. Really?
Can you imagine that? I can. I have had to see it personally in friends, and in the children of my friends.
With the advantage of youth and freedom, many have moved abroad. The brightest and the most hard working find stable employment, leaving the rest to return home. The northern European nations continue to suck out the cream of the crop of the current generation, leaving Spain and its neighbours without its future leaders and entrepreneurs.
Recently qualified graduates often realise it is hopeless to follow their dreams and have to hunt for new ones. I know of a lawyer, a sociologist, an architect, all who graduated thanks to the scrimping and saving of their working class parents and who can find no work. The lawyer is currently working as barmaid in London, the sociologist in a German factory.
Is this the European utopia we were promised? The best years in the lives of these young professionals, wasted in manual labour, ensuring they can never exercise their studies?
Europe as a political union is unable to find a solution, and as a monetary union has locked an entire generation of southern Europeans into poverty unknown for decades.
A poverty which is resulting in the rise of extreme political groupings across the continent, and fuelling an anti-EU sentiment even in such core states as Italy or Austria. If nothing is done to restore hope then these stress lines will resurface, cracking the EU project wide open.
Those whose favourite strap-line is that Britain is an insignificant little island with no geopolitical significance have had to drop that line after Brexit. In one single day this country fundamentally altered the European reality, and changed the course of the world.
Britain will do just fine outside of the EU. And maybe, just maybe, it will be a beacon of light that will make the European elite realise they need to do something to restore hope to that generation of children that they have so casually betrayed – before it is too late for us all.
This is an amplified version of an article that originally was published in the Costa Almería News and Costa del Sol News.