10
Jan

Europe’s Supernova Moment

Written on January 10, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, News, Op Ed

eu

HAMBURG, Germany — More or less since its birth, the European Union has been a subject of apocalyptic talk — a permanent crisis mode that has worked beautifully to enhance ever-closer integration.

Today, though, the situation is different, and it is serious. Never before have Europeans been more tired and disillusioned with the promises of the Brussels mandarins. In the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in May, the gap between what’s economically necessary and what’s politically justifiable is growing dangerously wide.

Europe has come through the last years of crisis with a new momentum, and yet the situation is reminiscent of how a star reaches its greatest density just before it explodes. If that is so, is there a remedy for what the analyst Roderick Parkes has called the “supernova moment”?

There is. But it would require Germany, the union’s largest and most powerful driver, to support an idea that the country has always fiercely rejected: to activate the thrust reverser for certain parts of the unification project as a way to reduce the Continent’s political stress. It would mean, more specifically, listening to the ideas being laid out by the British prime minister, David Cameron.

Integration, Mr. Cameron argues, should be cut back in a variety of policy-making realms — social and employment laws, for example, or environmental legislation — and shifted back to the individual countries. That would allow Brussels to focus on other areas more central to its vision, like monetary unification, energy security and enlargement.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been ignoring these ideas with a mixture of anxiety, denial and lack of vision. For the sake of Europe, she should think again. Read more…

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. As published in the International New York Times on Jan. 9, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com

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