The deepening crisis in the European Union: the need for a fundamental change

The crisis which began in 2007 and deepened dramatically in 2008 has exposed deep rifts in the architecture of the European monetary union. Harsh austerity policies which were first imposed on countries in Eastern Europe, and subsequently on the countries in the euro area periphery, are now beginning to be implemented in countries of the European core. The crisis is highlighting the deeply undemocratic construction of the EU, as the Commission assumes ever greater powers to control national budgets, without any serious oversight by the European Parliament. At the same time, the position of the core countries of the North, and in particular Germany, has been strengthened in relation to the countries of the periphery. But Germany’s economy, which has depended on stagnant wages and a rising export surplus, cannot be a model for the whole EU. In the face of global climate change, the EU’s approach to the Rio+20 conference in July 2012 contributed to its failure to reach any serious agreement.