More than a week of speaking with people, reading the press, and watching the nightly news in Berlin has brought home what a mess Europe is in. The European Union now consists of 27 member states. Nine more are lined up to join, the most contentious being the “non-European” Turkey. Seventeen countries have the Euro as their common currency. EU member countries range from small and desperately poor (Albania), to South Mediterranean spendthrifts (Greece), to large, wealthy, and thrifty (Germany). Each night’s TV news headlines leads with the latest attempt to save Greece from default.
The European Union has a parliament chosen in elections that attract little attention. It has a Council of Ministers, and a proliferation of high-paid Euro-bureaucrats. It operates ad hoc on the basis of a series of treaties. Its one attempt to draft a constitution failed. Key decisions require unanimity; others do not.
No one appears to understand what power the EU concoction has – in what cases it can trump national decision making.