Those of you who know me personally are aware I am not really anti-EU when it comes to the overarching core principles behind it. You will also be aware just how abhorrent I find what it has become. A behemoth of truly mythical proportions in its complexity, agility and usefulness to those it serves equal in usefulness to Europeans as the original description of the behemoth described in the Book of Enoch.
In summary in the Book of Enoch we find a primal unconquerable monster of the land and in the Lisbon Treaty we find a supra-national, unaccountable monster of the continent. Behemoth is indeed a suitable metaphor. Quite how EU ideology became such an unwieldy mess of bureaucratic nonsense and omnipresent obstructive malaise is beyond reason when looking back at the first overarching principles behind the EU.
However, it is what it is and whilst struggling to deal with the chasms of economic seismic rifts caused by the Eurozone, it still pursues a policy of far reaching and comprehensive agreements with Ukraine, holds Turkey (a major economy) at arms length and expands once again to allow Croatia to join in 2013.
It has long been said that a two tier Euro(zone) would be a possible answer. It would allow Germany and the already highly integrated Benelux economies (plus the economically qualified volunteers) to become one tier and the Mediterranean states such as Italy, Greece etc to become another. A massively devalued Mediterranean Euro could possibly allow them to trade and export their way out of their respective messes far swifter than any other method (bar leaving the Eurozone and cranking up their old currencies again).
The fiscal and monetary EU champion states can retain the well valued Euro as is. An argument quite well stated here.
If we are to consider this the way forward and the simplest way to retain not only the Euro but also save some face amongst the Eurozone nations and keep the EU “unity” seemingly in tact, then you have to ask why stop at a two tier system?
If France heads up the Mediterranean Euro group, Germany the Benilux tier, would this not be a good time to think of Turkish and Ukrainian integration even further?
The Turkish economy is doing extremely well. Turkey is also the military power in and around the Black Sea (land, sea and air). It is the front line of migration towards the EU from North Africa. Ukraine sits on the Black Sea as well. It is a major exporter. It is also a front line nation for migration towards the EU from Eurasia.
Needless to say Ukraine and Turkey have very good political, diplomatic and economic relations. All rather key to the EU concept of avoiding further wars on the continent via talking to each other and having sufficient economic interests in neighbouring states to make blowing them up counterproductive.
Would a third EU zone based around the Black Sea geographical area have anything to offer? The EU could easily shift the basket cases of Romania and Bulgaria, both with Black Sea interests into a zone with Turkey and Ukraine. After all, none of these nations are Schengen nations despite Bulgaria and Romania being EU members, all suffer from the same political graft and perceived selective application of rule of law.
A booming economy represented by Turkey, huge potential, particularly when it comes to agriculture and food production in Ukraine (a serious lever for the future) not withstanding its major export status, and two additional logistics hubs of Bulgaria and Romania to service Turkish/northern EU trade would not seem such a bad concept at first thought. That is especially so if we consider the next obvious seed for cultivating investment and economic growth will be Africa when the Asian economies begin to slow down. Turkey and commercial routes to Turkey will become a strategic necessity of high importance.
The simple question is, should the Eastern Partnership aimed at Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Belarus not also include Turkey (even though it is not “East”).
Making the EU more regional in structure would surely also make it seemingly more accountable to the 733 million people who live within the EU member states as there would be no need for the EU parliament, simply regular meetings of regional ministers to decide regional policy and those ministers are already directly accountable to their populous.
Whilst this may sound like the break-up of the EU, that is not what I am suggesting. The overarching principles upon which it is built would remain. There are many concepts within the EU that would hold the block together such as defence, energy and commerce. Those political and strategic bonds are unlikely to break (even if they strain) should the Eurozone collapse anyway.
The regional zones do not have to be based upon the use (or not) of the Euro, but as all Empires past and present have discovered, the further away the seat of power from the populous, the far more likely it is that there will be a collapse. That is just as likely for a quasi-democratic supra-entity like the EU as it was when all roads led to Rome.
Maybe I just need to start taking my medication again