Exclusive: The European Union’s haughty and hasty expansion into low-wage Eastern Europe may be its undoing, as the Brexit vote shows popular resistance to the westward migration of workers that followed, writes Jonathan Marshall.
By Jonathan Marshall
While few analysts are putting it this way, the European Union suffers from a self-inflicted crisis of overexpansion — a form of “imperial overstretch,” if you will. The Brexit vote was just the latest symptom of this policy disaster, which also includes escalating confrontations with Russia and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Public opinion polls in the United Kingdom established that widespread concern over immigration was the single most important factor driving voters to support an E.U. exit. Pro-Brexit campaigners made much of the statistics released just last month that net annual migration into the U.K. reached a third of a million people in 2015, double the rate just three years earlier.
Such numbers fed public concerns over the impact of immigrants on the country’s National Health System and other social services, as well as jobs. They also fed deep suspicions about government credibility.
As the Guardian reported after the stunning election victory for the Brexit camp, “David Cameron’s failure to give a convincing response to the publication of near-record net migration figures in the first week of the EU referendum campaign has proved to be its decisive moment.
“The figure of 333,000 not only underlined beyond any doubt that Britain had become a country of mass migration but also meant politicians who claimed they could make deep cuts in the numbers while Britain remained in the European Union were simply not believed.”
The influx of these newcomers had a deeper psychological effect on the public. “The British government’s inability to control (intra-European) migration is seen as emblematic of a wider loss of control,” wrote Oxford political theorist David Miller just before the election. “Many Britons feel that they are no longer in charge of their own destiny: ‘Take back our country’ is a slogan that resonates along the campaign trail.”
E.U. Expansion and Immigration
Roughly half of immigrants to the U.K. in recent years have come from other E.U. countries, taking advantage of the association’s fundamental commitment to the free movement of people. Their large numbers reflected the enormous expansion of the E.U. since 2004 — and the lure of Britain’s relatively affluent economy to poor workers from newer members like Poland and Romania.
The E.U. — which actually has a commissioner for “enlargement” — has expanded relentlessly without heeding concerns from grassroots constituents of its traditional core members. In 2004, the E.U. absorbed Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia — all low-wage countries with much lower standards of living than the likes of Germany, France or the U.K. In 2007, it also took in Romania and Bulgaria.
Official statistics show that citizens of these newer and poorer E.U. members account for nearly a third of net migration into the U.K. in recent years.
Although many economists defend free labor movement as good for the economy overall, the result — like that of free trade with low-wage countries — can harm less-skilled workers.
In 2011, two unpublished reports commissioned by the Department of Communities and Local Government made that point.
One warned senior government officials that sharply rising immigration could “increase tensions between migrant workers and other sections of the community” during the country’s recession. Another noted a huge rise in immigrants settling unexpectedly in rural areas, and concluded they were having “a negative impact on the wages of UK workers at the bottom of the occupational distribution.”
“We under-estimated significantly the number of people who were going to come in from Eastern Europe,” conceded Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party. “Economic migration and greater labour market flexibility have increased the pressure faced by those in lower skilled work.”
Ironically, many of the localities that voted most decisively for Brexit had relatively low migrant populations. But many of them are still suffering from economic austerity and sharp reductions in the social safety net imposed by the Conservative government since 2010.
“Switching the scapegoat from the government to the faceless migrant . . . is easier when people are scared for their livelihood, and more convenient for the politicians campaigning on both sides,” remarked the London-based writer Dawn Foster.
Voters were easily persuaded that “distant” and “faceless” E.U. bureaucrats just didn’t grasp their concerns. Indeed, the E.U. remains bent on continued expansion. It is currently in membership discussions with Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, and recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo as potential members.
Russia and Ukraine
The E.U.’s expansionist drive has had other costly repercussions for Britain and the rest of Europe. One notable disaster was its drive for an “association agreement” with Ukraine, a wide-ranging treaty that included not only provisions for tight economic integration, but also a commitment over time to abide by the E.U.’s Common Security and Defense Policy and European Defense Agency policies. On both fronts, the agreement was designed to pull Ukraine out of its traditional Russian orbit.
The E.U.’s expansion into Ukraine, like its expansion into the rest of Eastern Europe, was paralleled by the expansion of the NATO military alliance into the same countries, contrary to promises by Western leaders to their Russian counterparts in 1990. In 2008, NATO’s secretary general — backed by President George W. Bush and presidential candidate Barack Obama — pledged that Ukraine would be granted NATO membership.
Needless to say, Russia reacted badly, as it did to the E.U.’s later power play. It pressured the government of President Viktor Yanukovych to resist entreaties by NATO and the E.U. His refusal to break with Russia in turn triggered the so-called “Euromaidan” protests and the Western-backed putsch that ousted his government in February 2014.
Within a month, the new pro-European and pro-U.S. prime minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, had signed the political provisions of the E.U. agreement. Just months later, he declared that he would seek NATO membership as well.
The result has been a bloody civil war in Eastern Ukraine; dangerous and costly military confrontations between Russia and NATO; and mutual economic sanctions that impoverish both Russia and the E.U.
Future historians will help us understand the underlying sources of the E.U.’s self-destructive expansion. No doubt they include some combination of ideological faith in the universality of European values, bureaucratic aggrandizement, and pandering to neo-liberal elites. Whatever the causes, the results now threaten the entire European project.
The E.U.’s future will require serious self-examination on many fronts, but especially about its grandiose ambitions for expansion.
Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War”; and “Israel Covets Golan’s Water and Now Oil.”]
There could be some People who might be thinking that a group of People in Britain Rigged the Referendum Vote in the recent British European Union Referendum.
There could be People who think that the British know how to rig Elections and Referendums, but the British do not Rig their own Elections or Referendums, because they are Democratic at least for themselves.
The English Knew that that if a majority of British Voters wanted to leave the European Union, then Scotland would ask for another Independence Referendum, because Scotland wants to be a Member of the European Union, and so the English would not rig the Referendum, because they want Scotland to be part of the United Kingdom.
Accurate Opinion Polls had the Referendum Vote as being a close result for some time, and those Opinion Polls were not rigged, and the Referendum result was close, and so there could be some People who will say that there was a prospect of making Money on the Share Market by Selling Shares before the Referendum.
This is because of Knowing the Referendum result in Advance in order to make Money, but there was no rigging of the Referendum.
This is because the Referendum was Closely Monitored and was conducted with the Highest Standards of Democratic Principles.
Those who understand the Share Market and Investments are the ones who understand the Markets, and they would know who sold an unusual amount of Shares before the recent British Referendum, and there could be People who might be concerned because they think that a major Eurozone Country might Rig Opinion Polls and Referendums for leaving the Eurozone and the European Union if they can make Money on it.
This means that Investors could have sold their Shares in Advance, Knowing that if Britain Voted to stay in the European Union, then they could purchase those Shares again at the same price they sold them for, and if Britain Voted to leave the European Union, then they could repurchase those Shares at a lower price and make a Huge Profit.
There are People who want another Referendum, and even an Election to keep Britain in the European Union, and some of them are claiming that the Referendum was Rigged, but it was a Free, Fair, and Democratic Referendum.
The Referendum was Not Rigged, and there are other Countries in the European Union who need to exercise care on how they deal with Britain after this Free, Fair, and Democratic Referendum.
This is because other European Union Countries also have their own European Union Sceptics, and France is among the most vulnerable for leaving the European Union, because the National Front Knows that Britain was treated Unfairly by the European Union and that Britain lost its Sovereignty and its Democracy and was Dictated to, and that other Countries in the European Union are in an abusive relationship with the European Union, as is Evidenced by the comments of some European Union Officials regarding Britain.
The French People Remember that Britain Rescued France in 2 World Wars, and so the current French Government needs to be seen to favour Friendly and Fair Negotiations for Britain without any undue haste, because undue haste will makes mistakes for Britain and the European Union, and to Honour the Agreed to Provisions of the Lisbon Treaty Legal Contract, because the National Front will Remind the French Voters of this at the next French Elections, because French Voters do not like a French Government to Dishonour France, and other European Union Countries need to understand that Britain is a European Country, even after the Referendum.
There are People who think that having another Referendum might seem to suggest that a group of People in Britain rigged the recent European Union Referendum, and so they think that for this reason that there should not be another Referendum, because of the impression that the European Union is bullying Britain like they did with Ireland to have another Referendum and to Vote until Britain Votes as the European Union wants them to vote, and we saw how the Eurozone Mistreated Cypress and Greece.
There is the problem of what with having a second Referendum of happens if Britain Votes to remain in the European Union, where People will say that is was Rigged, and some of the British People may lose some trust in their Democratic Institutions, and there are People who think that another Referendum cannot take place before there is an Election on that matter, but I am not an expert on British Constitutional Law, but an Election or another Referendum could be seen as the British Parliament betraying those Voters.
There are People in other European Countries who are hoping that Britain Upholds the Dignity of Europe, by refusing to be rushed or bullied by the European Union, because Britain has Legal Rights under the Lisbon Treaty, and it has the Rights to those Legal Rights, and the Markets will be Stabilized with Civility and Proper Process and Deliberations regarding the Negotiations because of the recent British Referendum.
The British People are proud of their Prime Minister for having the Decency and the Humility to resign as his Acknowledgement that he is Disappointed and that he is partly responsible for the Referendum result, and that he is not the Person who should sign Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, because that task belongs to another British Prime Minister.
There are People who think that the European Union has done itself a Great Disservice, because there have not as yet been any resignations of European Union High Officials as Acknowledgement that they are also Disappointed and probably partly Responsible for the Referendum Result, and this attitude by some European Union High Officials may suggest some arrogance, and it will increase European Union Scepticism among other European Union Countries, because they want Britain to take All of the Blame for what has happen, and that is Grossly and Manifestly Unfair, and Britain has Every Legal Right to Fully Insist on the letter of the Lisbon Treaty, and the European Union owes it to Europe to conduct themselves Properly with Regard to the Lisbon Treaty and to display acceptable Standards with a Fellow European Country.
There are People who think that Scotland should be allowed to join the European Union if it votes for Independence, because the European Union said that it is in favour of other Countries joining the European Union, and that there should be Negotiations on Rules for Scotland, and Wales, and Northern Ireland joining the European Union, and other matters need to be negotiated as Europeans who pursue the Policy of Good Neighbourly Relations among European Countries.
This is because Several European Union Countries might Veto Scotland joining the European Union, because they have Separatist Movements in their own Country.
Britain can use the Money that it currently gives to the European Union to build up areas of Scotland and other parts of Britain so that they will want to remain a part of the United Kingdom.
There are People who think that the European Union should have mainly been a Friendship, Cooperation, and Free Trade Area, rather than what the European Union has become, and that Europeans would be better off if the European Union is mainly a Friendship, Cooperation, and Free Trade Area, and Many European Union Sceptics in other European Union Countries, will Support Britain’s Decision by purchasing British Goods and Services.
There are People who think that the European Union needs to act Properly in this circumstance, because this will also Stabilize World Markets which is also important to the European Union.
I appreciate this article, but must comment on Russia’s reaction to the “Euromaiden” protests that ended in the coup against Yanukovych. As I remember, the EU insisted that any trade agreement with them would be exclusive and would prohibit a similar trade arrangement with Russia. This was, to put it mildly, extremely discriminatory against eastern Ukraine whose economy is tightly connected to the Russian market. Furthermore, France, Germany, and Poland, with Russian agreement, hammered out an agreement that would see early elections and Yanukovych stepping down. The agreement was signed on February 21, 2014 and on the 22nd Yanukovych fled for his life.
thank you Frank Munley that is correct. This is totally omitted in the Main stream review of things:
“…the EU insisted that any trade agreement with them would be exclusive and would prohibit a similar trade arrangement with Russia. This was, to put it mildly, extremely discriminatory against eastern Ukraine whose economy is tightly connected to the Russian market. Furthermore, France, Germany, and Poland, with Russian agreement, hammered out an agreement that would see early elections and Yanukovych stepping down. The agreement was signed on February 21, 2014 and on the 22nd Yanukovych fled for his life.”
“Needless to say, Russia reacted badly, as it did to the E.U.’s later power play. It pressured the government of President Viktor Yanukovych to resist entreaties by NATO and the E.U.”
The wording of these statements are seriously misleading. Russia reacted remarkably well. It enticed the government of Yanukovych with benefits for the people of Ukraine, commensurate with the strength of the two nations’ economic ties.
The west, by contrast, generally entices prospective elites with benefits for said elites, with the usual result that the bought puppets competencies lie predominately in the realm of criminal self-enrichment.
Are you sure? Ukraine has been, and still is, one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
The US has also gained several positions in recent years.
that is correct Steve Abbot, I am glad you noticed,
even Jonathan Marshall picked up some from the laughable bad bad Putin campaign
“Future historians will help us understand the underlying sources of the E.U.’s self-destructive expansion. No doubt they include some combination of ideological faith in the universality of European values, bureaucratic aggrandizement, and pandering to neo-liberal elites.”
Is the author really unaware that it is pandering to the wishes of the United States that has lead Europe to disaster.
Indeed, only a small part of the problem is discussed in the article.
“No doubt they include some combination of ideological faith in the universality of European values” __ Robert HARNEIS
As demonstrated in their brutalizing subjugation and colonization of the entire world of nations and peoples — which continues even today… ?
Globalization’s parent was the East India Company.
there was a Dutch one too started only three years later in 1603, so nobody has the monopoly on being tyrants every country has it’s skeletons somewhere,,,I’m not British by the way
Part of the force behind general predictions of doom is a very concerted effort to keep the rest of the EU members in the fold. Lots of rumblings in the Netherlands and Germany to leave and keep from being dragged into a morass fueled by the less prosperous and productive members.
The UK’s vote to leave the EU has sparked demands from far-right parties for referendums in other member states.
Read more: EU referendum: Brexit sparks calls for other EU votes.
This whole thing is a great example of how big isn’t always better. The sooner the international globalist figures out that there are real people involved inside their plans, the better. If you wish to stop the flow of Middle East refugees, well then quit bombing their infrastructures out of existence inside their homelands. To make matters worst, these penniless refugees while on the move, get money loaned to them by the mob. When the indebt refugee fines that they can’t pay the loan lending mobster, well then the mobster puts them to work for the mob. There is your rise in crime, plus now the homeless refugee, has now become a criminal by working for the mobster. The poorer Eastern European nation dweller who migrates to England, or one of the better off nations inside the EU, should have never have had to have left their homeland in the first place. You can thank the IMF for their lending practices, which leads to deep austerity cuts, which make life inside these poorer nations hard to deal with. Our elite executives of today, only think in the now, and not in the day after, and these are our smart people we put in charge of such things. Yeah, big isn’t always better, and by me saying that, I might have as well screamed my message into the wind, for what it’s worth. Now, the protest should start to put an end to NATO. Every country who belongs should have it’s citizenry march in protest, to do away with this oversized war machine, and do it like yesterday. None of this will happen of course, because it is easier to make a sound bite and yell racism, because people are fed up, and want desperately to see some changes made. Don’t let anybody kid you, this isn’t all about racism, as much as it is about money, and war.
Corporations operate on psychopathic principles. If they realized the people are real in any other way than trying to control them, they would be out of business, unless they enjoy worldwide hegemony and don’t feel threatened. Knowing human nature, that is unlikely to happen, unless people are dumbed down and drugged up enough not to care anymore.
Wait a minute; it’s happening.
“…If you wish to stop the flow of Middle East refugees, well then quit bombing their infrastructures
out of existence inside their homelands…” Joe Tedesky, above
1. Easier said than done. In fact Tedesky is referring to the Government of Syria’s
right of self defense. How does Tedesky propose to rid the invasion of militant
organizations into their country in the knowledge than that many of these organizations
are supplied by the US (typically CIA).
It is interesting to note that the self-proclaimed “good guys/white hats” of the west
cam’t wait to declare their humanitarian concern etc. for those killed
in wars. Such concern is conspicuous by its absence when Israel bombs
hospitals, areas used by civilians. Instead, there is total silence.
2. In another comment I referred to the expansion eastward by the
US toward encircling Russia. Thanks to Jonathan Marshall for developing
these points. I would not be surprised to see similar reluctance by
some NATO members (the EU and NATO are not the same but are
conflated as agents to execute US foreign policy).
3. The effect on the US Presidential campaign is not reliable.
After November, some candidate’s partisans will say,
“I told you so!” referring to Brexit and other developments to come.
At this date, one cannot be too sure.
—Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA
Peter, thanks for the response. I would propose to rid Syria of its militants by allowing the Assad government along with it’s allies Russia, and Iran, a clear battle field, meaning we the U.S. wouldn’t be there. Since Syria is a sovereign nation this would also allow Syria the right to defend itself from any other combatant such as any other nation (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc) who enters their air space, or who approaches Syria from on the ground, and poses a threat to Syria’s well being, and safety. The important thing would be the U.S. wouldn’t be involved, unless we included ourselves by Syria’s request, and fought along side Syria and her allies to wipe out the militants.
Are you on crack?? they already KNOW there are real people involved in their plans! they just don’t give a F&%K
Only the English could colonize half the world, then leave the EU because of immigrants.
There is more than a little whiff of racism, misplaced nostalgia for the Empire and white supremacy about the Brexit vote. Note that Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU, as did Wales and Northern Ireland.
– In this case-study, England as superior over Scots… .
Wales voted to exit the EU
I got news for you.
Humans are pack animals (Csanyi, 1964) and as such, are born racists. When two cultures were forced to live together in history, one of them usually eliminated the other one. Multiculturalism is too violent an idea to be shoved down in people’s throats, especially when the cultures that are supposed to meld are incompatible and one of them comes with an openly expansionist ideology that poisons the lives of the little people who would otherwise unhappily chase the American Dream and wait for Santa.
Blaming the immigrants was an easy solution. The real problem is the financial industry that has captured 90% of new income and refused to share with the population. This move created vast inequality witch is really what is ddriving these movements. Fortunately for the rich they can balme the immigrants and continue their game for awhile.
I agree; the situation is quite the same in the US.
Bottom line with humans: they fear the other. We have feared the other since cave-man days, sometimes with good reason, other times, not. It should be apparent that any country that is forced to take more immigrants than they feel they can tolerate will end up rebelling. In the EU’s empire building scheme, this factor was ignored. Brexit is the result, and now movements in other countries to regain this element of sovereignty will follow suit.
Thanks! Excellent article I learned a lot.
Like your writing style too.
Low cost laborers from the East. This is something I might never have learned (within a reasonable time scale) without reading this site.
On the same theme, Moon of Alabama continues to predict that Brexit will be squashed like a bug.
That one, at least, I’d already figured out for myself.
There are at least two errors in fig 1 by Moon of Alabama: Sweden and Denmark haven’t joined the eurozone:
But yes it does look like the establishment will try everything it can not to have to go thru with the Brexit.
A superb irony just presented itself on the television — viz., news-video of the Foreign Ministers of the six founding member states of the EU roundly condemning Brexit, and all of them speaking in English. So maybe — but who knows? — the English language will one day, as the de facto EU lingua franca, remain the only relic of the UK’s over-40-year membership. Which leads me to wonder whether it wouldn’t have been better had France, a founding member, insisted right at the start on French as the official EU lingua franca, just as French long served, more than a century back, as the official diplomatic language. That way, at least, it would have kept the Americans — and maybe even the English, too, who only signed up with the EU some years later — at a healthy distance. After all, anglophones are notoriously bad at mastering other less polyglot (and less predatory / piratical / plagiaristic) languages.
Some anglophones – we mustn’t stereotype. Scots (of whom I am one) have long been exceptions to the rule, many of them speaking adequate or even fluent French. There is still talk of “the auld alliance” between France and Scotland, against the common enemy (England).
The expansion of the EU simply allows for the expansion of NATO….NATO expansion is the agenda and brain child of the neocons . China and Russia threaten market share ….period…….. With the exit of the Brits I see a major war on the horizon……very much sooner now then before ……..The neocons must tighten their grip in more ways than you can imagine…..H.A.N.D.
Do see economist Michael Hudson’s superb 12:16 mins. discussion,
“How Military Interventions [i.e., US + NATO] Shaped the Brexit Vote”, at: therealnews.com/t2/
Perhaps metastasizing would be a better word to explain European Union expansion.
A very nice word.
Monarchies in Europe
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A map of Europe exhibiting the continent’s republics (blue) and monarchies (red).
There are currently twelve (12) sovereign monarchies in Europe: the Principality of Andorra, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the State of the Vatican City.
Ten of these are states where the head of state (a monarch) inherits his or her office, and usually keeps it for life or until they abdicate. As for the other two: in the Vatican City (an elective monarchy, styled as an absolute theocracy), the head of state, the Sovereign (who is a Pope), is elected at the papal conclave, while in Andorra (technically a semi-elective diarchy), the joint heads of state are the elected President of France and the Bishop of Urgell, appointed by the Pope.
Most of the monarchies in Europe are constitutional monarchies, which means that the monarch does not influence the politics of the state: either the monarch is legally prohibited from doing so, or the monarch does not utilize the political powers vested in the office by convention.
The exceptions are Liechtenstein, which is usually considered a semi-constitutional monarchy due to the large influence the prince still has on politics, and the Vatican City, which is a theocratic absolute elective monarchy.
There is currently no major campaign to abolish the monarchy (see monarchism and republicanism) in any of the twelve states, although there is a significant minority of republicans in many of them (e.g. the political organisation Republic in the United Kingdom).
Currently seven of the twelve monarchies are members of the European Union: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
At the start of the 20th century, France, Switzerland and San Marino were the only European nations to have a republican form of government. The ascent of republicanism to the political mainstream started only at the beginning of the 20th century, facilitated by the toppling of various European monarchies through war or revolution; as at the beginning of the 21st century, most of the states in Europe are republics with either a directly or indirectly elected head of state.
So, WW3 opens with a new squabble between European Imperialist ?
Whose World Is This ??!