Europeanizing Europe

BERLIN – The eurozone is at the center of the global financial crisis, because only there, in the realm of the second most important currency after the dollar, does the crisis hit a weak “structure” rather than a state with real power. It is a structure that is squandering the trust of citizens and markets in its ability to resolve conflicts – while pushing the international financial system to the brink of disaster.

In other words, the financial crisis now reflects a political crisis of the eurozone – one that calls into question the very existence of the European project as a whole. If Europe’s monetary union fails, not much of the common market, or of European institutions and treaties, will be left. We would have to write off six decades of successful European integration, with unknown consequences.

This failure would coincide with the emergence of a new world order, as two centuries of Western predominance come to an end. Power and wealth are shifting towards East Asian and other emerging countries, while America will be preoccupied with its own problems and turning from the Atlantic towards the Pacific. If Europeans don’t address their interests now, no one will do it for them. If Europe today does not become the agent of its own destiny, it will become the object of new world powers.

The cause of the European crisis is not three decades of neo-liberalism. Nor is it the result of the collapse of a speculation-fueled asset bubble, the violation of the Maastricht criteria, ballooning debt, or greedy banks. As important as all of these factors are, Europe’s problem is not what happened, but what did not happen: the creation of a common European government.