To all appearances, European integration may get a new strong spur in the nearest time. A new state may appear on the geographic map of Europe in several years, however, it is not yet clear how this new state will be called. Former rivals, German and France, plan to confederate.
EU Commissioners Gunter Verheugen (Germany’s Social Democratic Party) and Pascal Lamy (socialist) suggested the initiative of confederation. In an article published in the German and French press, they call for creation of joint governmental institutes, joint army, single foreign policy, etc. It is quite natural that the question arises, for whom this union can be more profitable and which side will suffer losses as a result of the confederation. On the one hand, Germany’s economy is in fact the backbone of the whole of the European economy. France will obviously profit from unification with this strong partner. And on the other hand, the confederation with France will allow Germany to become a regular member of the UN Security Council, which will certainly increase its influence in the international affairs. So, both sides of the planned confederation will profit from it. However, it’s not a sure fact that political elite of both countries will rush to unify like mad, as they certainly will have to sacrifice some of their authorities as a result of this unification.
It should be mentioned that other countries are also welcomed for the unification, but later, after May 1, 2004, when ten more countries are to join the European Union. This time the suggestion of unification concerns only old members of the European Union.
It is difficult to say if a French-German union state will be actually created, and if created, how it will go with the idea of united Europe. In fact, Verheugen and Lamy suggest that their states, Germany and France, will be the leaders of the European integration. But will other countries like this idea? Opinion of the rest of the European countries is also very important for united Europe. Will London or Rome like the saying that the process of European integration will emasculate without this German-French union? They are unlikely to be especially enthusiastic about this idea.
On the whole, the idea of German-French unification suggested by Verheugen and Lamy has an old historical background. At least in the 1920s years, it was suggested that not only the United European States must be created, but a French-German state as well. However, at that very period those ideas were more understandable: the unification was suggested with a view to resist to Britain’s hegemony and to threats from the East. Now ideas of this kind are said to be a quicker advance towards European unity.
But future prospects of united Europe are rather vague so far. Despite the obvious success of this integration, there are still lots of problems concerning the process, the problems are of political, economic and social nature. And it is not clear yet whether Europe has successfully passed the cuspidal point and the process of unification is inevitable. Nobody knows what will be with the European Union in ten years at least.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/14/36/5810_eurounion.html