The EU, the first defeated party in the Ukrainian war, is heading for a long crisis and threatens internal rupture

17 May, 2022

Macron and Scholz
Macron and Scholz

While the US approves the umpteenth support package to the Ukrainian state, this time of 40 billion euros to sustain the war, France, Germany and behind them Italy and Spain begin to recognize a strategic defeat… vis-à-vis Washington. Growing ideological resentment, political impotence within the EU and the increasingly accepted prospect of breaking the EU in two are expressed. It is not “only political”: the development of the imperialist contradictions within the EU and in relation to the US can only accelerate the offensive of national capitals against the living conditions of the workers.

Table of Contents

Germany and France, and with them Italy, Spain and Portugal are becoming increasingly peripheral

Ukrainian gunner on the Izyum front
Ukrainian gunner on the Izyum front.

Estonia shuts up Macron and his attempts to revive Russia-Ukraine negotiations. Zelensky, with a military apparatus fueled to the limit by the EU itself and the US, disqualifies the attempts out of hand. Evidently Europe is not what it used to be.

The German and French bourgeoisies are beginning to wonder how they got here. “We are sleepwalking“, wrote a high French bureaucrat in Le Figaro, comparing the situation with the outbreak of the first imperialist world war. In Germany, this weekend’s elections in the Rhineland sent a clear signal to Scholz: the abuse of warmongering propaganda is shifting the balance of opinion towards the Greens, the most pro-US party in the political arc, which had already been reinforced with the foreign portfolio, limiting even more the maneuvering capacity of the industrial interests protected by the SPD.

France and Germany discover that “the Western front” has not only called into question the EU’s aspirations for “strategic autonomy”, but has condemned the Franco-German axis to a marginal role within its own imperialist playpen: the EU.

Europe discovers that the U.S. game is bankrupting it

Biden on his first trip to Europe as US president
Biden on his first trip to Europe as US president

The US strategic game does not hold any promise for the European powers other than an aggravation of the current trends imposed by the Biden team. The US is determined to go all the way and to bankroll the hecatombic war dreamed by Ukrainian and Russian nationalists in order to definitively break the economic-energy network linking Russia to the great Central European industry.

The desire to wage war “until the end” is so clear that even the New York Times and the Washington Post warn that indefinitely prolonging the Ukrainian war until it becomes an existential danger for the Russian national capital and its political regime could be counterproductive and quickly open a nuclear scenario.

Read also: Will Russia use nuclear weapons in Ukraine?

The trap is obvious. The resulting scenario would hopelessly de-industrialize the EU, not just Germany. Moreover, the US strategy has already rendered the European Green Deal strategy obsolete, which, without the complicity of the US and its capital markets, will inevitably turn from an oxygen balloon of profitability – based on extracting income from workers – into a burden on exports. Even the Spanish press grasps the situation and denounces the significance for European capital of the “change of course” of the Biden administration.

With the advent of the war, the map has changed completely. None of Biden’s program is being implemented, fossil fuels are once again at the center of priorities, as is the arms industry, the New Deal is forgotten and investment money is going into aid to Ukraine. In this new scenario, the rhetoric of the U.S. establishment is little different from that which could dominate in the Trump era. And foreign policy is once again dominated by neocon positions, by guns, fuel and money.

For the European Union, this shift has enormous consequences. Firstly, because its energy supply will become much more expensive if it decouples from Russia, with all the consequences in terms of supply shortages and difficulties for families and businesses (and, by extension, for its space in international trade). Second, because entrenching the war to weaken Russia cannot be done without great economic damage to the continent, something the US will not suffer.

The two losers with the invasion of Ukraine. El Confidencial.
Read also: The collapse of the German model.

The growing Franco-German resentment

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen

Frustration leads to resentment, and resentment is already undermining relations between the major chancelleries and the von der Leyen Commission, which opinion columnists are already reproaching for its yielding to English-speaking linguistic imperialism, now recognized as a symbol of suicidal subservience to Washington.

We have renounced the old European project, just as Mrs. von der Leyen has renounced the language of Goethe in favor of the language of the Washington Post. Anglo-American is not, however, the language of the Old Continent, but the international tool of the elites which the majority of the population understands little or not at all – which is why the President of the Commission would do better to express herself in German, with simultaneous translation.

The plural character of our civilization should even lead each of its representatives to privilege their own language. On the contrary, the use of English is a mimicry of submission that makes this Union the only major geopolitical entity to speak in a language that is not its own, even less so since Brexit.

It goes beyond tokenism. And President Macron, despite his faith in a hypothetical “European sovereignty” and his few efforts for diplomatic independence, seems unlikely to change this sad reality of an increasingly American Europe in the way it acts, thinks, expresses and, henceforth, fights [wars]!

Ursula von der Leyen, the German who believed herself to be American, Marianne

Franco-German impotence: is it time to break up the EU?

Are Germany, France and their allies so quick to give up the battle for treaty reform?

The truth is that the Franco-German proposal for reform, with the elimination of unanimity, has so far served only to show that half of the EU no longer dances to the tune of Paris and Berlin. The Baltics and much of the Eastern Belt live for conflict with Russia. The former allies of Great Britain (Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden) do not want to lose a weight in the determination of economic norms and policies that they do not have demographically, nor to become militarily “autonomous” from the USA. And even Greece already considers it safer to rely on the US than on France to hedge against the Turkish risk.

The paradox is that the only alternative left to Berlin and Paris is precisely that which it wants to eliminate for all: to boycott the new enlargements in the Balkans, Ukraine and Georgia which the countries that were once part of Russia or the Russian bloc want to accelerate. Spain, Portugal and Greece have already taken this position: “The EU must be reformed before further enlargement”. But not even that makes the numbers work.

In fact, even in foreign policy, for which the treaties themselves envisage the possibility of moving to a system of qualified majorities, countries such as Poland do not even want to hear about a change, no matter how much Germany pushes for it. After all, the Commission itself, in payment for its war services, has given up its battle against Warsaw and unfrozen the funds without the government needing to change its position on the primacy of local law over EU law one iota. Why would it give up its main bargaining chip, the power of veto?

This proposal is unacceptable to us as it would mean the dictatorship of the stronger EU countries over the smaller countries, depriving our region of a voice.

Jacek Sasin, Polish Deputy Prime Minister

So what the option left is no other than internal breakup. Macron already stated that “Europe should not wait for the most skeptical or the most hesitant”, pointing the way to “enhanced cooperation”, i.e. forming a bloc within the EU that openly tries to turn the rest, i.e. the EU proper, into an area of influence.

This, however, would not only aggravate internal imperialist tensions, driving the East and most of the Nordic countries definitively into the arms of the USA, it would make the already very complicated system of balances of the EU even more complex, threatening its basic organizational viability. Over-the-top organizational complexity has never done anything but accelerate the decline of states and para-state organizations. And the EU system already resembles too much that of the Venetian oligarchies of the 17th for it to become even more complicated.

Read also: The future of Europe and the war

The coming Europe and the workers

March against the pension reform, January 16, 2020, Paris.
March against the pension reform, January 16, 2020, Paris.

The development of the imperialist contradictions within the EU and in relation to the USA can only accelerate the offensive of the national capitals against the living conditions of the workers.

The choice of Elisabeth Borne by Macron as the new French prime minister gives more than hints. Her main merits: to have buckled, hand in hand with the unions, the longest railroad workers’ strike in French history, to have attacked unemployment insurance as Minister of Labor -according to her it was “excessively generous”– and to have been one of the designers of the failed Macronite pension reform.

Is there any doubt as to what will be the priorities of Macron’s new mandate, regardless of the outcome of the legislative elections? In Italy, the country of plummeting salaries? And in Spain, the country of the government of the “coolest things” and falsified debates?

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