Is Europe a Country?

The Scotsman reports on Tony Blair’s possible ambition to be President of Europe. An EU summit is going on in Athens, and while the idea of a European President is controversial, the idea that Europe should have a single Foreign Minister is not: “[T]here was almost unanimous agreement that the EU should have what amounts to a ‘foreign minister’ – a single foreign policy supremo.”
The question, it seems to me, is whether Europe is, or ever will be, a country. Europe’s leaders want to move the continent in that direction because they perceive that only by being a single entity will Europe be able to equal the economic and cultural power of the United States (they do not even dream of approaching the military power of the U.S.) Having a European “Foreign Minister” and a European “President” are natural steps in that process.
The problem is that self-appointed statesmen cannot create a nation. Europe is not a single country whose citizens share a single dominant loyalty to the entity “Europe.” It is conceivable that such a day could come, but it is certainly not on the horizon now. The concept of nationhood is, I think, inherently bound up with the concept of national defense. Unless a group of people are willing to fight and die for one another and for their collective independence, they are not a nation. Commercial relationships that promise mutual advantage can give rise to alliances of convenience, like the Hanseatic League or the original Common Market. But they do not, by themselves, create countries. And in today’s Europe, it is hard enough to get Frenchmen to fight for their own countrymen, let alone for Romanians or Italians.
In fact, the main contemporary trends in Europe are in the direction of devolution, not concentration. There is much more passion brought to bear on behalf of Scottish independence, for example, than in favor of a merger of the United Kingdom with France. And the newly-freed states of Eastern Europe, just released from the grip of an involuntary confederation, are enjoying their long-sought sovereignty and are in no mood to re-confederate.
If Europe were a country, Tony Blair would be a good choice for its President. But Europe is not a country, and in my view will not be one any time soon, if ever.


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