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Europe Could Benefit From Less, Not More, Commonality

Could the EU benefit from less—not more—commonality?
Europe Could Benefit From Less, Not More, Commonality
Illustration by Erik Marinovich

“More Europe” is always the solution when leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel talk about Europe’s slow-burning financial crisis. To qualify for emergency aid, they say, countries like Greece and Spain must surrender control of their banks and budgets to supra-national authorities. Another brick of the “more Europe” edifice was cemented into place on Dec. 13 when finance ministers of the 17-nation euro zone agreed to unified banking supervision under the European Central Bank. That’s a step toward a banking union, which is a step toward fiscal union, which is a step toward, someday, political union.

But it’s hard to see the way to a United States of Europe when every move in that direction has Europeans at each other’s throats. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Madrid and Barcelona on Dec. 17 in the latest demonstrations against austerity. Germans, meanwhile, complain that they’re being played for suckers by Spain and Greece. In a November poll, 46 percent of Germans favored letting Greece go bankrupt.