The correlation between the EU and one's (un)threatened sovereignty
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Criticism is crucial in any evaluation of any political body. A problem can arise when the pure reflection of one’s critical eye grows into nonobjective blame on external factors for the missteps of a given government or other national institutions. In the reality of growing populism, it has become a norm to create catchy slogans by building negative emotions. The European Union is an easy and fairly ubiquitous target for that. Its imposition of a certain scheme of actions from above is one of the main causes of the anti-community allegations of many officeholders in Europe. The supremacy of the EU law over the state constitution develops into the main motif of many Eurosceptic statements. Pointing a finger at Brussels to say it is taking the last remnants of a country's sovereignty goes off effortlessly. Voices promoting leaving the Union in order for a given regime to gain better sovereignty are heard more and more often.
However, the solutions in politics are never as simple as pictured. Leaving the EU does not lead to a situation where a country suddenly finds itself in a secluded vacuum where every other regime is merely an outer observer of its actions and decisions. One would still not be able to ignore and freely circumvent all the resolutions set out in Brussels - provided that the economic development of the country is changelessly taken into consideration.
Globally, there is not a single state existing that would maintain its prestige without engaging in economic relations with its neighbors or other countries. The European market is sustained mainly by the participation of the members of the largest continental organization. Therefore, all those who strive for the efficient functioning of their economies on the old continent are, indirectly or not, dependent on the EU arrangements. For instance, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland are not part of the Union but remain in the European Economic Area in which the EU member states constitute an overwhelming majority. Each piece of legislation created at the Brussels summits impacts the free trade zone and common market of the continent's countries. Consequently, both Oslo and Reykjavik are subject to the same rules as Paris or Stockholm.
The state’s economic growth leads to an increase in its prestige in international politics. Different trade offers appear, more external representatives negotiate with a given regime on all kinds of issues. The EU ensures a boost not only to the beneficiaries of the common budget but also to those whose financial contribution to the community exceeds what they directly get from it. Elimination of customs, low-cost transactions, and harmonization of legal norms are just some of the profitable aspects of membership in the Union for the largest continental economies, e.g. the German one.
German society is aging. The influx of people able to do manual labor from countries like Poland or Lithuania allows the internal economy to remain unchanged if not function more and more dynamically. Capital paid into the EU budget returns with won tenders in a neighboring country or increased imports and exports throughout the Union. The EU budget allows countries with weaker economies to develop faster, but every state benefits from such an initiative. When analyzing the specific numbers, one shall see that in 2020 Germany contributed EUR 26.5 billion to the common budget. The profits, however, for Berlin due to the functioning of the single market amounted already to EUR 208 billion.
In the era of current political events, it is worth noting how strong the sanctions on Russia are when imposed collectively, not as isolated provisions of individual governments. There are countries on the continent which, due to their economic or political potential, would never take steps that the Union decided to execute as joint actions aimed at weakening the aggressor. In addition to this, the states of the former Eastern Bloc, whose historical relations with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation are unequivocal, could actively participate in discussions on the process of dealing with the current acts of President Vladimir Putin.
The countries that in the past were in the Soviet pocket had a real possibility of influencing the attitudes of Western delegations to the war in Ukraine. Ursula von der Leyen herself admitted that the EU should have listened to the voices coming from the East as this region knows best how dangerous Russian provocations can be. The strategy led by Olaf Scholz could prove fatal, if not tragic. To have a real impact on the balance of power on the continent, and to reject the notion of the superior and the subordinate ones, one must actively perform in the organization. Thus, there is an increased number of votes from countries with different experiences, needs, or expectations.
In conclusion, contrary to the claims of some personalities in suits, voluntarily shedding a membership in the European Union will not restore that dream sovereignty that has been said to be so savagely seized by the horde from Brussels. Organizations that promote and practice the idea of a common market, transnational consensus, and the furtherance of regional unity and harmony, contribute to the development of prestige and greater independence of a given country. The economy is positively affected, the influence of a given regime is expanded and its diplomatic potential is strengthened. An independent state is not the one that functions in a vacuum, isolated from the rest, but the one that knows how to use cooperation with others to broaden its significance and dimension, while being aware of the fact that combining forces with others will not make them lost or plundered.
Dear Eurosceptics, keep your friends close but your enemies - even closer.