Just a year ago, as representatives of the twelve governments making up the European Community (EC) met in the Dutch city of Maastricht to sign the latest in a series of pan-European agreements, polite opinion was unanimous that a united Europe would challenge the United States economically, that it would take charge of reordering the formerly Communist world, and that its “advanced” approach to economic, social, and environmental matters had a lot to teach us. Indeed, polite opinion strongly backed the prospective Clinton administration’s desire to imitate Europe’s approach to industrial policy, medical and child care, and much more. Today, however, it is evident that Europe will not unite according to the vision of the Maastricht treaty, that its economic policies are a drag on us, that Western Europe is being contaminated by the Communist compost pile, and that its approach to socioeconomic matters has mostly cautionary tales to tell. In 1992 Eurotopia was supposed to emerge. Instead, 1992 became the year of the Euromess.
The Danish people’s narrow rejection of the Maastricht treaty; the French people’s equally narrow acceptance; Britain’s, Italy’s, Portugal’s, and Spain’s abandonment of attempts to maintain the value of their currencies against the Deutschmark; anti-foreigner riots as well as various Eurosummits rife with talk of “saving Europe”—all these are only symptoms. The Euro-mess itself consists of nothing less than the bankruptcy of the postwar political order. Within each European country people are searching for ways of saying “no” to politicians of all parties, whom they perceive as really belonging to a single party, that of the ruling bureaucracy—a bureaucracy that takes about half a worker’s income and no longer seems able to justify doing it.
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