In addition, the continent has no coherent foreign policy or effective military capability. As Zielonka (2006) argues, the current European Union is simply too large and unwieldy to ever act like state; rather than a coherent actor on an international scene, he sees a “maze Europe.” The European Union’s member states do not see eye to eye even on a major issue whose excesses and burdens simply cannot continue: the bloated, trade-distorting agricultural subsidies that have been swallowing about 40% of the EU’s annual budget. Europeans, so eager to sermonize about their superior economic and social policies and higher moral standards, and so ready to voice anti-Americanism, could do with some introspection in all of these respects. Europe’s labor productivity and ample leisure time have been bought by mass (and in some countries, persistent) unemployment, roughly twice the U.S. rate for the entire work force (∼10% vs. ∼5%). In some parts of the continent more than 25% of people younger than 24 years are jobless, and in 2005 the peaks were above 50% in three regions in Italy, two in France, and Poland (Eurostat 2005b).
Just two months after the self-congratulatory comments on the United States’ ineptitude in dealing with the hurricane Katrina (“something like that could never happen here”), banlieus were burning all across France, the flames of thousands of torched cars and properties illuminating segregation, deprivation, and neglect no less deplorable than the reality of New Orleans’ underclass exposed by Katrina’s breached levees. (The torchings of about 100 cars a day have continued ever since.) As for the EU’s morally superior risk-sensitive policies (as opposed to what Europeans see as unsophisticated, brutal, and blundering U.S. ways), they allowed EU member states to watch the slaughter of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of refugees in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Only the U.S. interventions, on behalf of Muslim Bosniaks and Kosovars, prevented more deaths (Cushman and Mestrovic 1996; Wayne 1997).
As for the grand visions of professional politicians, they have been rejected in a referendum even by France, the European Union’s pivotal founding nation. Many managers as well as ordinary citizens would characterize the EU’s modus operandi as bureaucratic paralysis instead of caring social democracy. Additionally, and sadly, the continent’s ever-present anti-Semitism is undeniably resurgent (requiring the repeated assurances of political leaders that it is not); it surfaced in some stunningly direct comments during the Israeli-Hizbullah war of August 2006. Finally, a multitude of national problems with European integration will not go away.
The presence of a supranational entity like the EU has the effect of weakening ancient national entities. Spain has its Euskadi (Basque) and Catalunyan (and Galician) aspirations. Combined challenges from devolution (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), European integration, multiculturalism in general, and large Muslim populations add up to a trend that may see the end of Britain (Kim 2005).
Germany, France, and Italy, the continent’s three largest nations whose unity is not threatened by serious separatist movements (episodic Corsican violence or Lega Nord are not going to dismember France or Italy), have their own deep-seated challenges.