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The future of the EU is an issue of great controversy and heated discussion mainly because of the situation in Italy and Greece. Nothing can be stated for sure because, depending on the solution to the crisis that will be chosen by the union, the situation may change for the better or for the worse. William McDougal in the article “Will Europe Survive the 21st Century? A Meditation on the 50th Anniversary of the European Community”, expressed his predictions concerning the EU’s future after profound analysis of its military, religious and demographic problems.
The critical situation in the EU escalated to the point when it does not matter whether Greece leaves or stays. Its expulsion now will not make any sufficient difference for the future. The events in this country were not as dangerous as the possibility of the so-called “contagion” that already happened and affected Italy. Greece as such was not of considerable value from the very beginning of the crisis. But Italy, the state that is helping France to counterbalance Germany and countries of Benelux, is to be provided with help. Or else, France can lose its influence, and it has a high possibility of being the next country to be “contaminated” (Gaunt and Wheatley, 2011). The EU is now to make a difficult but unavoidable choice: to strengthen in some way or to break apart. The very construction of the union was very weak from the beginning. Everything was all right until economic troubles came to surface. What is that if not weakness? (Faris, 2011). In my opinion, the EU will manage to overcome this difficult period of its existence, but the cost will be high. The crisis as such commenced because of the absence of common economic and monetary policy. The task of the EU is to change its structure from within and to achieve something more than a union on paper. The crisis will teach the EU countries how to coexist with each other for the benefit of all the countries-members.
Although economic crisis is now the most pressing problem, it is not the only one. There are some other things that may ruin the EU from the inside. McDougal in his article about the possibility of the EU’s survival (McDougal, 2007) outlines three main problems that may further lead to its destruction: the absence of military power, the growing spiritual emptiness of the Europeans and demographic decay that is growing every year. From the beginning of its existence, the EU was not pro-military unity. There even existed a joke concerning the USA being from Mars and the EU being from Venus. The author of the article proves this statement by saying that the EU has no strategic forces, long-range logistics, space-based reconnaissance and small aircraft, armored and reaction forces. It was always in favor of “soft power”: diplomatic, cultural and moral persuasion was always a better option for it than any kind of brute force. But this was possible, as the author attests, only because of the absence of considerable threat nearby and because of the USA’s willingness to fight with terrorists. But what if at some point America will no longer be willing or capable of taking on the defense issue on its shoulders? In modern restless world, a possibility of military danger can come out of nowhere, and the EU as a unity is to be able to defend itself by the jointed power of the countries-members (McDougal, 2007). Or else, every country will be obliged to defend separately, and this may not become a success story. Another thing that may cause a divide of the EU in future is the spiritual emptiness of its citizens. Some centuries ago, the whole European civilization was built on Christianity and belief in God, but today religious affiliation of Europeans is a very relative notion. According to the statistical data, the highest percentage of people who consider religion to be important is in Germany and constitutes 21 percent. If to compare it with the figure in America, where it is 82 percent, it becomes obvious that the Europeans feel comfortable to live without God. But where can it lead them? (McDougal, 2007) Religion has always been a power uniting people during hard times. If not in unity, how would the EU be able to overcome the crisis and step stronger into the future? The last point that may have unfavorable consequences for EU’s future is the demographic decay. The possibility of having children for Europeans is no longer connected to the idea of happiness. Today, babies are obstacles on the way to career success. Family values decline, abortions and divorces are more frequent, and couples more often choose two incomes over children. Europeans need immigrant workers, because population ages day by day. Already 20 percent of Europeans are non-European, and their quantity increases. With such tendencies on the rise, who knows what can happen to the EU in a couple of decades (McDougal, 2007). And the union still desperately needs young people to shape governments, to find solutions to the existing problems and change economic situation for the better. In my opinion, McDougal is especially right in stating that growing spiritual emptiness in the EU may lead to its destruction in future, because religion is a power that joins people into a strong, inseparable unity, and this is exactly what the union needs at this stage of development.