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Victims of changes

In the last month we have experienced a paradigm shift in the relations among EU Member States, and not a positive one after all. In the first instance, we have assisted to Greece taking a stand against IMF, part of the EU Institutions and, most of all, against Germany. The decision to postpone and conditioning any possible “agreement” on its debt and relating issues on the basis of the results of a referendum has been seen by many observers as a strong position taken on by Greece which should have led – eventually – to a change in the balance of power among Member States. However, this has been – strategically speaking – a mistake, since we have experienced populism rising all over Europe, where many movements have supported the Greek choice, however not considering that a structural problem cannot be faced by bringing back the problem itself to the people having voted a government to solve these issues.

It can be simply stated that the arena has been dominated by two factions: a populist one – represented by Greece and its government with the support of some political organizations and other movements all over Europe – and a bureaucratic one – represented by IMF, part of the EU institutions and, mostly, some MS, with Germany acting as primus inter pares, or prōtos metaxỳ ísōn (to say it in Greek). This lead us to the second observation, that is the necessity – if any – for the EU to be dominated by one of its Member States. In my personal opinion, the answer is a strict NO, which I think the vast majority of the people will agree upon, maybe with the exclusion of Germans. It is important then to consider what kind of institution or supranational entity the EU is becoming and if, in the last few years, MS have given too much room to the German influence. The reason why such a reflection is necessary relies on the necessary distinction to be made between domination and hegemony in its Gramscian definition, where power is based on a combination of strength and consensus; however, if strength prevails we have domination. And this is exactly what we have seen in the last couple of weeks, with Germany creating not a consensus around its position but using its economic strength to force other parties to follow and embrace its position.

Based on this, a very simple question that needs to find an answer is who has provided Germany with this kind of power. Although it is not easy to answer, some considerations can be made; firstly some Member States of the European Union have been too relaxed on their position in the last few years to stand against German raising. I refer here to France, Spain, Italy that had to face their own structural problems (economic and financial ones just to mention a few), and have been unable to create a common front. The United Kingdom, on the contrary, has seen these events as an opportunity to move away from the European Union, distancing itself from it and from other Member States, first of all Germany, seeing Grexit as an opportunity to start building special relations with countries facing economic and financial difficulties, and Greece would be a first test for the United Kingdom to gain power on a continental basis. Greece is instead too small and too weak to stand against IMF, EU institutions and Germany, so that its populist move had no effect but the one to exacerbate the bureaucratic front positions, where the government should have tried to find strong allies in other MS in the past few months instead of castling the country in a sort of political isolation. In the end we have a long list of victims: Greece, since the agreement is an insult to the country itself, being the conditions unbearable; France, Italy, Spain, because they are unable to stand against a single MS domination; EU institutions, since they have proved to be ineffective when it comes about being independent. Ultimately, Germany will be the victim of itself as the history has shown us in the last 100 years.

Author :
EurActiv Network