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European Union must adapt to survive and grow

Oct 03, 2023

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The European Union has planned a series of upcoming meetings to determine processes for admitting new member states, particularly those most involved in the fight to defend Ukraine. Significant questions loom over these meetings, including inquiries about the definition of Europe and who falls within that definition.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan reviews the EU’s challenges as it aims to grow, noting that “the world that the EU was built for doesn’t exist any longer.” Among other items, Zeihan contends, the EU will need to remove single-member vetoes, take tougher positions against corruption, and overhaul its agricultural subsidies program.

Excerpted from Peter’s Oct. 3 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The fate of the European Union will likely be decided in the coming week; if that doesn’t pique your interest, I’m not sure what will.

The meetings are set, and there’s plenty on the docket; now it’s time for the peaceful EU that has existed since WWII to face the music. To keep up with the times, the EU must rework its rule of law, fix the corruption issues, move away from its focus on agricultural subsidies, and eliminate single-member vetoes.

Once those issues have been addressed, admitting new members — primarily those under Russian threat — will help the EU balance its economic and military strengths.The EU is a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, and if it can’t round out those edges, its 27 member states are in for a s–t-storm.

Everybody Peters on here coming to you from Cape Cod, where we have to talk about the EU, European Union. EU is a group of states 27 of them right now who have kind of thrown their lot together to form an economic grouping. So they can economically be a bigger power on the world stage. And they’re starting to discover that economics without military powers kind of a problem. So they’re looking to the east. And they see a whole lot of states that are either directly threatened by the Russians or at war with them, like, say, Ukraine, and they’re coming to the conclusion very quickly, that if they don’t let these countries into the EU, it’s gonna actually cost them more in the long run. So on the fifth of October, they are meeting with all of these governments to see what they can do. And then on the following day, all the Europeans are meeting without the potential new members to figure out how what they need to change about the EU in order to let these countries in. The issue is the identity of the European Union has always been a peace project. And the aftermath of World War Two, they tried to create a Europe that was united, free and at peace, and it broadly worked. But that environment is now gone, and things need to change. So the biggest problems they have, well, there’s two big ones. Number one, a lot of these states have weak rule of law or fairly corrupt. And number two, a lot of them are heavily agrarian, and courtesy of some of the evolutions of the EU early in its development. Until very recently, over half of all EU funds were given us agricultural subsidies, that’s down to about a third now, but still huge chunk of the budget. And all of these countries would basically absorb every scrap of cash that the EU would have. In addition, EU decision making is founded on national vetoes for any sort of big issue like enlargement or taxes. So tiny little Greece can veto, for example, Greek bailout terms that they don’t like, which has led to the organization kind of being an institutional pygmy, when anything real is involved, and they tend to squabble about the most irrelevant things such as a cheese policy. So if this is going to work, if the EU is going to matter if the EU is going to survive, a lot of this needs to change. And it’s not necessarily the countries that they’re looking to admit that need to do most of the changes. They need to get rid the single member vetoes, which means countries like France can’t shape the union to their liking anymore, they probably need a little bit softer and things like rule of law and corruption, which is going to be of a problem because they’re already countries in the EU that are backsliding quite a bit with Poland, Hungary beat at top of that list, and they have to change the financial system, so that it’s not just all going to relatively non productive farmers or too big conglomerate farmers in places like Ukraine. So this is one of those situations where the world that the EU was built for doesn’t exist any longer. And they’ve got to decide if the EU can change in order to adapt to that world and shape it on the other side. And we’re probably going to have a really good idea about that in less than a week. All right, that’s it for me. See you guys next time.

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