The eurozone is comprised of very different, heterogeneous economies that can hardly be an optimal space for a common currency, argues Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider, Professor of Law at Erlangen-Nurnberg University.
RT: What a state the EU seems to be in? What has happened to it?
Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider: The EU has become a bureaucratic system that we call a super-national confederation of states but, from the legal point of view, it has this tendency to turn into a federal state. And this is one of its essential problems. It is not just an alliance of states anymore, but a federation without a legitimate base. It has no nation, no European nation, but nations. Political relations within the union get less democratic all the time. In this situation we are losing what we call a legal state, which is of the highest priority.
RT: The euro seems to be in great trouble too. What is going to happen to it?
KAS: The euro will inevitably fail. It was always clear that the euro-project would not succeed. Already in 1993 I have processed the Maastricht law suit that was mostly against the introduction of the monetary union. Without the consent of the nations comprising the EU, the euro is being used as a political lever to make the EU a super state that, for example, goes against Russia, and at the same time, serves as a counterbalance against China, the USA and other economic giants. But this lever was always economically doomed to failure.
The eurozone is comprised of very different, heterogeneous economies, which can hardly be an optimal space for a common currency.
A combination of internal markets with common currency requires member states to carry out revaluation and devaluation of their currencies, taking into account different levels of productivity and the efficiency of their economies. Weaker member states are not competitive, and bailouts cannot help here, as we see now. A common currency can be introduced only when the member states’ economies are convergent and have similar levels of productivity. And that is not the case. It is a long way before we can possibly reach it. The worst thing here is that a common currency is counterproductive. It hampers the aims of economic development. But we still hold to the euro, because we want to make a super state out of the EU.
RT:The subject of bailouts is also causing a lot of controversy, particularly in Germany because it has to pay most of the bills. What is going to happen with bailouts?
KAS: In Germany we have never witnessed a situation when the law is not respected as we see it now, in the “Europe-rescue-time”. They simply say that there is no other alternative but to sometimes neglect some provisions of the treaties and our constitution. Otherwise the euro would crash. The euro is really of no value, it is only an instrument and nothing more. Nobody needs this EU, which became a bureaucratic dictatorship. I wish we could have an association of European states and nations, which would be capable of admitting the Russian Federation, a very important European state. But it is at the moment in today’s form absolutely impossible. Vice versa the EU was born in the times of the Cold War and was meant to be against the Soviet Union. The EU wants to be a super state politically but it will fail economically.
RT: What caused the current financial crisis in the EU?
KAS: The euro has contributed, but also the debt-collection policy which has other causes.
The debt existed long before, from the time of the reunification of Germany. But the southern European countries that are in trouble now, were those that could boost their loan debt because of too favorable and subsidized interest rates. They lived beyond their means. Just think about it, since the introduction of the euro, the salaries of clerks and state officials have risen in Greece by 76%, and in Germany at the same time by at 0.9%. And wages in Germany rose by 5.8% and in Greece by 42%. This is all from credit. The easing of credit terms, the halving of interest rates, is a false scent. It itself is the main reason for the debt.
RT: Multiculturalism has failed, say European leaders. But what are the actual consequences of that failure?
KAS: If by multiculturalism you mean people from southern Europe, Germany, northern Europe, Hungary, Poland, Russia, all European nations, living together, then no, it has not failed. There is no problem at all.
The problem is with the Muslims. It’s not the people who constitute the problem, but Islam. And Islam comes with Muslim people. They build active groups that promote Islam and advocate the establishment of Sharia law. And Sharia law, particular its criminal section, is absolutely impossible for European relationships. We have religious pluralism in Europe and not a single religion is dominant. But Islam is the religion that tolerates another religion as long as it has no power.
Secularization was the biggest political event for Europe. It meant that state and church were divided and no one is entitled to impose its religion. I am determined against any tolerance of Sharia law. But it has nothing to do with tolerating Muslim people.