- Allistair Mitchell
Tales from the Edict 31 - The EU Trajectory
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
How the European Union responded to the Depression of 2030-31 was presaged by its response to the pandemic a decade earlier. At the outset of the pandemic individual countries were hit hard while others took measures that seemed to avert the crisis. The EU collectively took comfort in the successes and helped those countries struggling to cope. It was from the collective response to the first deadly wave that the member states drew an early conclusion: together they could fight and win.
This was the wrong inference to draw - they showed together they could treat the victims, but it was wrongly attributed to the ‘fight’. As the first wave receded leaving the EU with comparative victory, especially when compared to the UK’s outcome, this misrepresented the process. The EU’s role as a coordinator of responsiveness was parlayed into a narrative of command and control, rather than its true role as a seasoned operator knowing the paths and processes of intergovernmental co- ordination.
When the second wave came, the EU had already relapsed back into its natural administrative function rather than that of leadership. The decision process consumed time when time was of the essence and EU administrators were no more up to the challenge of expediting decisions quickly in a crisis than in normal circumstances. The paucity of its claims revealed the EU as an unwieldy management system that failed to defeat the virus.
So, while their British neighbours had learned a harsh lesson during the first wave, invested in research along with the US, Russia and China, and moved to clinical trials and placed orders, the EU scrutinised its options, losing valuable months. When the vaccine rollout commenced the EU woke up at the back of the queue and so attempted to impose Euro socialism to address its own failings, demanding equality in solution delivery. Even its own people recognised the hollowness of such an argument, given the protectionism at the heart of the EU model.
Given that the EU suffered a third wave and, in some regions, a fourth wave, it is amazing that no country subsequently chose to leave the EU but then, none had the benefit of external ties quite like the UK had enjoyed. The EU staggered along, bruised, and sore but unbroken. And unreformed.
By 2030 the organs of the supra-state had, if anything, grown more embedded within the union, its decision making still as laborious and drawn out as in 2020, everything requiring negotiation and horse trading to find a compromise. As well as a slowing metabolism the EU had a problem with its blood supply, the Euro.
Its most widely traded currency, already under pressure following another decade of money printing to help alleviate the effects of the pandemic, had at its heart a weakness. The Euro had suffered from falling confidence among international decision makers, if not markets. This apparent anomaly was a mirror of the situation with cryptocurrency. The latter were widely held but not trusted by the gatekeeper authorities and remained predominantly an investment.
People bought cryptocurrency because it increased in value, not because shops accepted it as legal tender (although many would accept it, making more profit when cashing it in which is why crypto transactions never really took off). As a currency with zero national liability the Euro was, in effect, a pseudo cryptocurrency. If the European Central Bank were nothing more than a construct the bottom could fall out of the Euro and no one was accountable for the bad debt.
When the cryptocurrency bubble popped the EU was no more exposed to the impact than others, and certainly less so than China. But the extent of losses racked up in the cryptocurrency sector soon blew away the last vestiges of credibility that the Euro had. The argument went, ‘if there is no value, there is no value’. The Euro fell and kept falling. An estimated 50 million Europeans lost their money in the cryptocurrency crash and they, like their fellow victims in China, looked to the state for answers. Confidence in the EU bled away, fuelled by memories of the pandemic. When it transpired the European Central Bank had lost heavily trading in crypto currencies as well, the Euro looked to be finished as it plummeted towards worthlessness.