Thursday, 25 February 2010

The end of the Euro or a politically unified Europe?

Recently in Time, there has been an article stating that the economic crisis hitting Greece (which I had noticed in one of my rare appearances on television) could lead to a bailout package not only for Greece, but for the whole European Union and for the Euro currency scheme.

With hindsight, if such a bailout goes ahead, it is further reason to see the problems in the "big-is-beautiful" ethos behind the European Union. One can see the EU formed on the basis that large nations are needed to compete with such countries as the US, Australia, China and India who all have many more natural resources than all of Europe combined.

The problem is that so many people have shown the huge problems of bigness both in cultural and environmental terms. In countries like that owing to either
  1. their generally flat topography and lack of distinctly different environments (Australia)
  2. or particular circumstances that allowed for easy movement even in pre-industrial era (China with the Grand Canal)
possess a very definite "natural unity", one sees especially how this cult of bigness brings ecological ruin (Australia) or demographic and environmental problems (China). What Jared Diamond also said was that Europe's natural disunity due to the lack of rivers and abundance of coastal ports was what allowed it to go ahead so well with colonisation of the Americas (where the native mammals' egalitarian social structures precluded comparably advanced societies) and ultimately Africa and Australia.

The danger is that if the EU goes ahead with the kind of political unity suggested by Time, Europe could become a big-government behemoth affected by demographic decline and an absence of thriving local economies that, up to the middle 1970s, were praised by so many thinkers. Whilst unity of this sort allows planning to deal with environmentla crises in particular, I have said far too often that Europe, owing to its remarkably fertile soils and low biodiversity from extensive glaciation of most regions north of the "Continental Divide" separating those regions draining to the Mediterranean, is the region that needs sustainable environmental policy least, so the benefits are minimal compared with real pressure for zero emissions from Australia.

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