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What Can Save a Europe That Is Headed toward Break-up?

Throughout the course of history Europe has been the scene of many long wars that have wreaked terrible devastation. France and Germany, for example, went to war against each other three times between 1870 and 1945. Having been ruined during the Second World War in particular, Europe sought to achieve a climate of peace by building a powerful economic union. The European Coal and Steel Community was established for that reason in 1951. The scope of that union was increasingly broadened, and its name was changed to the European Economic Community in 1957 and again to the European Union after 1992. The union was intended to bring about cooperation on matters of justice, security and the economy, but the lack of the love that makes the world a livable place has never been overcome. Wars between EU members may have been prevented, but there has never been sound progress among the states when it comes to trust and therefore love.

The human values of the EU have been suspended in the face of floods of refugees. Some members of Europe have been saying, “Let us send non-Christian refugees back,” while others have begun saying, “The borders must be closed to the elderly, the sick and the useless.” Politicians who were very pleased with themselves when the gates of freedom were opened with the Schengen Zone's “freedom of movement” have now begun demanding the erection of walls and barbed wire fences on borders. 

On the other hand, loveless and racist tendencies have begun growing in the continent with the rise of the extreme right. Extreme right-wing movements in France, Holland, Denmark and United Kingdom have begun speaking of leaving the union. 

Several EU countries are heading toward being broken up

One of the greatest threats to the EU is the process of division occurring within member countries.

Some of the regions demanding greater autonomy or independence include the South Tirol in Austria, Finland’s Aland Islands, Macedonia in Greece, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which belong to Denmark, and Corsica, Brittany, Loraine, Burgundy, Savoy, Occitania, the Basque region, Normandy and Northern Catalonia in France.

Apart from member countries, the winds of independence have also long been blowing in the autonomous region of Transnistria in Moldova (Transnistria has made a unilateral declaration of independence and now wishes to become part of Russia), Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, together with Sandžak and Preševo. Macedonia’s Ilirida region, the autonomous regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine and the Bosniak, Serbian and Croatian regions of Bosnia Herzegovina also seek independence.

The winds of independence that began blowing with the beginning of economic growth in Europe 

While some EU countries in economic crisis head toward break-up, the debate and disagreements over wealth distribution in some others are leading to demands for independence.

The Basque region and Catalonia, wealthy autonomous areas of Spain, want to break away in order to avoid having to share the country’s heavy burden of debt. Economic indicators for Belgium and Italy are better, but there are still loud voices calling for separation from these countries. The wealthy Fleming region of Belgium and the economically powerful Veneto, Alto Adige, Val d’Aosta and Friuli-Venezia regions of Italy are demanding independence in order to not have to finance the poorer parts of their respective countries.

Germany is talking about a break-up

There are also increasing calls for independence in Germany, one of Europe’s and the world’s largest economies. The country’s three wealthiest states, Bavaria, Hessen and Baden-Württemberg are talking about leaving Germany in order to not have to share their prosperity. Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer, Hessen Minister-President Volker Bouffier and Baden-Württemberg Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann took their case to the Constitutional Court in 2013, alleging that the money raised from their states was being distributed to the poorer states in a highly unjust manner.

The importance to Germany of Bavaria in particular, its richest state, is enormous. The state has a population of 12.5 million and a GDP of $550 billion. Per capita income is approximately $35,000. Some state officials are unwilling to share these eye-watering numbers with the rest of Germany. 

Demands for Bavarian independence are even supported personally by politicians. The Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavaria’s most powerful party and the sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is one of those leading the way on this subject. Wilfried Scharnagl, an important figure in the CSU, wrote a book backing the idea of Bavarian independence, “Bayern kann es auch allein" ("Bavaria Can Also Go It Alone"), published in 2012. In the book, Herr Scharnagl defends his thesis of separation as follows: “Maps are not set in stone for eternity. Who would have imagined, 25 years ago, that there would soon be a free Latvia, a free Estonia and a free Lithuania?" The truly dangerous idea is the one he proposes after that: He makes reference to the independence movements in Belgium, the Basque Country, Scotland and Catalonia and suggests that Bavaria could take a similar approach. 

Voices from the CSU calling for independence have continued this year. One such voice belongs to CSU member Steffen Vogel who referred to the recent referendum on independence in Scotland and said, “Why should we not strive for independence, like the people of Scotland do?” 

Germany must talk about union and unity, not break-up 

The Germans in the north of Europe have established a number of unions under various dynasties over the last 3,000 years. Several empires established with the coalescence of small German principalities since around 800 AD have fallen apart for various reasons. The most recent, the Federal Republic of Germany, founded in 1990, consists of 16 states. 

Being united, coalescing together in love and spreading that love across the world are highly becoming to Germany, with its deeply-rooted state tradition. Sharing economic wealth rather than trying to hoard it is a good thing, and an example of moral virtue. The very best behavior would be to distribute any surplus after one’s own needs have been met, not just to other states of Germany, but to needy people all over the world. This fine policy, which Germany and all other powerful states should adopt, will be instrumental in the world coalescing and forming a single whole, united together in love.

Implementing divisions on ethnic, legal, political, social or economic pretexts makes it impossible for societies to survive. The greatest problem here is lovelessness, which makes not only individuals greedy and selfish, but also politics, policies and societies and that leads only to hatred, polarization and divisions.

Another important point here is the presence in a climate dominated by lovelessness of ideas that can easily prepare the foundations for division and fragmentation. As we have seen, the presence in a country whose bonds of love have weakened, even though it possesses an abundance of prosperity and democracy, of notions that involve autonomy or federation, opens the door to fragmentation. Under such regimes, even the slightest disagreement will lead to calls for independence. Precautions must be taken against this danger before all else, and political systems that best ensure union and unity must be put into operation. 

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