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Milosz Zak

EU to entrench integration ‘by default’

“Nations have no permanent friends, only eternal interests,” is a saying commonly attributed to Lord Palmerston. Against the backdrop of Europe’s financial crisis, realists and euro-sceptics forewarn the EU’s disintegration as domestic interests increase in priority.In reality, these very forces of self-interest diminish the prospect of the Eurozone’s dissolution. Ironically, national interest will lead to more European integration, and, more likely than not, Europe’s heads of state, the very champions of national self-interest, will be at the forefront of a push for a more integrated Europe.Although political rhetoric and reality will be at opposite ends of the spectrum, any shake-up of the European bureaucracy will, by default, further integrate the EU. Both disintegration and inaction are too costly and politically unpalatable; all remaining alternatives would entail further integration.The real consequence of the financial crisis will not be the supposedly-inevitable Greek default, but rather the extension of European integration. The inevitable deepening of European integration stems from three considerations: first, decisions regarding a crisis of this scale will not be made unilaterally; second, for Europeans the short-term costs of disintegration far outweigh those of unity; third, the EU’s trajectory has essentially been predetermined by its Frankish ‘core’: France and Germany.The scale of the financial crisis has tied the hands of European elites. This is not because continental leaders are swayed by domestic populism, but because the fate of the EU is also the concern of the troika; the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.Most importantly, the ‘European’ financial crisis has not wreaked equal havoc across the whole of the EU, and leaders of the UK and the Frankish core, along with unaffected Nordic and Central European countries, face three options: fragmentation, stagnation or integration.The costs of breakup are unsalable, and the troika’s involvement makes inaction impossible, so any… Read More