The strong sister of the European group, but for how long.

The Odd Calm of EU Officials

by George Friedman,
from Maudlin Economics,

Imagine the following scenario: Texas votes to secede from the United States, sparking bitter negotiations between Austin and Washington. A neo-Nazi party wins seats in the California legislature. Cook County, home to Chicago, threatens to break away from Illinois to form its own state, while government officials, worried about losing such an economically vibrant region, furiously try to prevent the election from taking place. The federal government, meanwhile, vows to suspend North Carolina’s voting rights in Congress simply because it didn’t approve of its behavior. It considers doing likewise for Arizona. In such a scenario, one might rightly conclude that something is terribly wrong with the United States.

The thing is, this is pretty much what is happening in Europe. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, and the negotiations over its departure are unpleasant, to put it mildly. Alternative for Germany, a party whose members have been compared to neo-Nazis, has won a surprising number of seats in Germany’s parliament. Catalonia, which is home to Barcelona, a large and economically vital city in Spain, held an independence referendum Oct. 1, something the government in Madrid has tried to stop. (Early reports indicate physical altercations between regional and national forces.) And the European Commission has threated to suspend Poland’s voting rights over actions taken by the Polish government, and has previously attacked the Hungarian government.

... the degree of fragmentation, the mutual anger between member states and the central apparatus, and the separatism in Spain (the most significant of several such movements) seemed extremely serious to me.

In contrast with the Americans, who tend to overstate their problems, Europeans tend to understate theirs. (Had the United States the class of issues Europe is dealing with, the roar of the crowd would be even more deafening than the roar is today.) It may well be that European leaders see things more clearly than I do. But I don’t think so. I see a pattern of disintegration that requires the energy generated by panic if it is to be solved. They see a need for a meeting of technocrats who will sort all this out. If they’re right, they should hold the meeting quickly.

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