by John Brian Shannon | August 30, 2016
Europe is at a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions
Very conveniently, however, there are really only 3 problems with Europe.
I: The trickle-up economy continues to move trillions of dollars out of the bottom 4 quintiles and place it into the hands of the top quintile. This remains a recipe for failure, and the longer it continues the more draconian the solutions will need to be.
In 2016, half the world’s wealth is concentrated into the hands of the 1% — but by 2030, three-quarters of the world’s wealth will be concentrated into the hands of the 1%.
That’s wholly unsustainable. And nobody is even talking about it.
Unless addressed, Record Inequality will become Social Breakdown. And that will be the end of Europe as we know it.
II: Globalization is a truly wonderful thing. It continues to bring cheap goods to consumers since the Arab Oil Embargo in 1974, which caused millions of Americans to buy cheaper, more fuel efficient cars. That was the beginning of it, but the flood of electronics, textiles, and other goods soon followed.
For one such example of this; Each iPhone would retail for over $2000. with some sources asserting each iPhone would cost $3000. if manufactured in the United States.
But globalization has piggy-backed on Record Inequality to the detriment of workers and families in the West and it looks like (however fairly or unfairly) ‘The People’ are sick of globalization.
Declining living standards due to Inequality and Globalization have ‘The People’ thinking that change is necessary.
And change will come. The People always get their way. Maybe not with Perestroika and Glasnost, but the will of the people eventually becomes reality.
III: “You are leaving the American Sector”
We all remember those signs in postwar Europe. But what is actually happening is that America is leaving the American Sector in Europe.
Yes, America has realized that 58% (and growing) of all global trade is happening in the Pacific and the Americans are lowering their commitment to Europe and the Middle East.
Europe should be all grown-up by now, and the Middle East is a rambunctious, late-teenage, regional power. You should try to get along.
Prior to the Brexit referendum, the normal course of events would have been for the U.S. to become the Pacific Power and for the EU to become the Atlantic Power.
However, for that to happen, the EU needed Britain (which is by definition) the world’s seafaring nation and Britain is leaving the EU.
Consequently, history is still happening as the logical course of action post-referendum is for the UK to become the dedicated Atlantic Power, while the EU becomes the dedicated Mediterranean Power.
And that means strong (and fair) linkages with MENA nations and it means a strong invite to join the EU for every single southern European nation.
As 97.1% of Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia, it also means ‘Hands-Off Crimea’ but either Turkey or Ukraine (sans-Crimea) will eventually join the EU. But not both.
Russia won’t allow the EU to have both, so choose the option you prefer and get it done with as little upset as possible. The EU already has too much on its plate — troubles with Russia is the last thing the EU needs — especially in view of decreased American commitment to Europe.
The next 10 years will be a vulnerable time for the EU; Meaning, this is not the time for the EU to go shooting itself in the foot with a Russian gun.
Europe has only three problems. The ways I’ve outlined are not the only ways to solve them. However, they align with what is already happening.
What I’m saying, is that instead of governments being steered by events European leaders need to steer the thing even if it means continuing on with what was already going to take place anyhow.
a) Friendly divorce with Britain.
b) EU lowers Atlantic commitments and ramps up linkages and commitments in the Med and MENA.
c) All southern European nations join the EU.
d) Choose either Ukraine (sans-Crimea) or Turkey and make one of them an EU nation, ASAP.
e) Friendly relations with Russia are imperative — if the present leadership can’t get it done, Fire Them and get new leaders — it’s that important.
f) Friendly relations with the Middle East (stop bombing your neighbours)
g) Address Inequality in no uncertain terms.
h) Stop using the word globalization and seek Win-Win bilateral trade agreements exclusively, where that trade actually benefits both sides — instead of just dumping your goods in other countries and getting the loot. You need (true) Interdependence instead of Globalization.
i) Harmonize EU economic policies around the best existing model in Europe (Norway) where deficits are limited to 4% of GDP, plan for a 3% unemployment rate, free university education for residents, low crime rate, high productivity, very high SPI and UN Happiness Index scores (and those two metrics drive all other positive stats) revenue surpluses directed to a sovereign wealth fund, and so much more.
These are not big challenges compared to the challenges faced by WWI and WWII leaders, and by leaders in the immediate postwar era. These are tiny challenges.
But these challenges will require persistence by leaders who can keep the main objectives in the forefront of their mind, even as (seemingly) everyone else wants to go in different directions.
The question is not; “Does the EU have good leaders?” (Of course it most certainly does or the EU wouldn’t have ever existed, nor would it still remain)
The question is: “Does the EU have the leaders it needs to actually accomplish the remaining goals?”
- Europe’s Last Chance (Project Syndicate)