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Monday, 27 March 2017

Why is there no European blueprint?

The DNA of any organism contains a kind of blueprint how it will grow and specialise in due time. Technically, "the DNA is not the blueprint of life; rather, it contains many of the basic codes and signals for the development of an organism" (HP). The mere idea is fascinating in itself.

Human beings have more difficulty in organising themselves than our DNA does. Still we do have some principles like: leadership, management, specialisation, span-of-control, and the preferred size of an organisation. When a company grows we create business units, then subsidiaries, divisions, and so on. Nearly all companies have such a top-down approach.

The European Union (EU) is an anomaly as it has a bottom-up approach. Its member states are the shareholders of the supranational EU. This anomaly can also be seen in its management structure: the European Commission is a kind of executive board of directors. However, the real power is with the European Council, which acts like a supervisory board of directors and as shareholders.

The discussions between EU and member states are not much different from discussions between holding companies and BU's, subsidiaries or divisions. Many of these discussions are about accountability and responsibility, budgeting, management fees, and reporting.

Nevertheless, the EU's bottom-up approach is a core issue in the discussions on the national interests of EU member states and the international aspirations of the European Commission. Hence, the EU is often mentioned in discussions on nationalism vs internationalism.

I'm only aware of one company that faced a similar, paralysing, structure for many years: Rabobank, "a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company" (Wiki). In 2015, all 110 Rabobank outlets merged into 1 bank and the head office finally obtained control (eg, NOS).

A similar merger in Europe would either create a Federal Republic of Europe of semi-independent states (similar to Germany and USA) or a European Republic of many provinces. Latter is proposed by the German political scientist Ulrike Guérot. Her proposal assumes a far-reaching European solidarity following a universal European taxation and welfare, despite the huge European differences in cost of living. Clearly, her plan resembles a modern kind of communism.

Following the recent string of GPF articles on Nationalism by George Friedman, I am shifting my beliefs a little. He is focusing on national identity (eg, common language, religion) as the main source for Nationalism, while I was focusing on fear as its main source. My new thinking is that Nationalism is rooted in the fear over losing national identity

This poses a dilemma as there is no European identity. This suggests that the EU cannot even sustain without its national member states. First and foremost, I am Dutch. I'm not European as Europe is just a geographical location rather than a cultural identity. My understanding of English (fluent), German (average), French-Italian-Spanish (basic) does not bring a European identity.

Perhaps the surge in Nationalism is due to the lack of a serious alternative. Recent news points in that direction: "German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a champion of a federalist EU, has set aside his longstanding belief in closer integration and advocated a looser “multi-speed governance” for the bloc as it tries to rediscover its sense of purpose in a 60th anniversary summit." (FT)

Europe - The Final Countdown (1986) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2