Magazine article The International Economy

Europe Ten Years from Now: What Are the Chances the Structure of the European Union as We Know It Will Still Largely Be the Same? TIE Asked Eighteen Distinguished Experts

Magazine article The International Economy

Europe Ten Years from Now: What Are the Chances the Structure of the European Union as We Know It Will Still Largely Be the Same? TIE Asked Eighteen Distinguished Experts

Article excerpt


SAMUEL BRITTAN Columnist, Financial Times

A member of the former BBC Brains Trust (C.E.M Joad) used to reply to every question with, "It all depends what you mean by X." I could reply that it all depends on what you mean by "structure" and "same." Anglo-Saxon observers often underestimate how long EU changes take; but they also underestimate the extent to which European governments eventually follow preannounced schedules and decisions, if only because they are too exhausted with paperwork to do anything else.

Ten years ago the one foreseeable development was the single currency (the euro). This has indeed happened but it has done nothing to energize the European economy; and some would argue the reverse.

There is no such project now on the horizon. The key features of the European Union are the single market, achieved if imperfectly; the absurd agricultural policy, and and the ossified labor market. I am afraid that the last two will take more than another ten years to disappear, although I have some hopes of the newer members kicking against the traces. The so called "Constitution" does nothing to define precisely the respective spheres of governments and EU institutions. So whether or not it is ratified, the arguments between the federalists and proponents of a Europe of nations will still be raging. The European Union will be neither a proper federation nor an alliance, but a limping confederation as it is today. The EU Parliament will continue to boast of "achievements" such as workers' safety regulations, car seat belt rules, and a ban on tobacco advertising which in the United States are (mostly) left to individual states.

The one foreseeable political development is more attention to an EU defense force and EU foreign policy. But this will still only involve the "willing" in each particular operation and is unlikely to be big enough either to challenge or to help the United States.


GEORGE SOROS Soros Fund Management

Almost impossible.

Largely the same but with a new federation of five.

JACQUES ATTALI President, PlaNet Finance

The European Union will be largely the same as today. The Constitution will not pass. A stronger integration will begin between France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg out of the European Union. The process of merging of these nations--in politics, defense, and finance--will be "en route" towards a federation of five.


OTTO GRAF LAMBSDORFF Honorary Chairman, Free Democratic Party, Germany

I am quite confident (90 percent) that the structure of the European Union will--and should largely remain the same within the next decade.

Today's structure, though not perfect in terms of its insufficient transparency, creeping enlargement of compentences, and red tape, has served its two main purposes: peace and economic prosperity. Considering Europe's history, this is an achievement that cannot be underrated.

I doubt that today's challenges, namely the integration of the new member states and Europe's citizens, can be facilitated with new structures. We should therefore abstain from pushing for new structures and rather confine ourselves to consolidating what we have created so far.

The real issue: unless Turkey is allowed in, the EU will not deserve to survive.

NIGEL LAWSON UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1983-89

The European Union has "already achieved the first two of its three historic tasks: Solving the German problem, in particular burying the hatchet between Germany and France; and cementing the position of the former subject nations of Central and Eastern Europe as part of the free world. Only one historic task now remains.

Unless within the next ten years Turkey has become a member of the European Union, thus building a vital bridge between the West and modern, secular democratic Islam, the European Union will not deserve to survive. …

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