The defining trait of European countries ever since the end of WWII has been cooperation – to effectively move together towards common goals that interest Europe as a whole. That is the main idea of the European Union, which begun as the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community in the 1950s. But, of course, to think that every country would seek the common good of the EU is idealistic and naive.
Since the Maastricht Treaty established the European Union as we know it today, it has faced many perils. Most of them could have been avoided to some degree but were not because of individual members seeking their own interests and discarding the well-being of the Union. And thus far such behavior has brought Europe to a situation were euro scepticism has peaked and the prospect of the collapse of the euro-zone and the Union itself has become very real.
Although the concept of the EU has always been to sustain peace and economic stability, the focus has shifted quite greatly. As David Cameron said in his speech on the European Union in January 2013: “Today the main, overriding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.” (Of course, this was before the events in Ukraine and Crimea.) And as we all know the prosperity of our society is based on natural resources and energy produced out of them. Although the attitude towards resources is slowly changing, the most profitable businesses are based on oil and natural gas. So logically, if you seek prosperity, you need the resources to acquire it. It may be great for countries, which basically dwell on black gold or gas, as for example Russia or Saudi Arabia. In Europe, however, this method of obtaining wealth is impossible due to the lack of natural resources the EU can offer to the global market. This brings me to a question. Should EU members be so concerned with obtaining more money and higher GDAs, or rather they should stick to more sustainable goals? The root of the problem might be the mindset of European citizens. More and more people ask themselves the wrong question. They are focused on what the EU can do for them and not what they can do to benefit the EU. And the governments are obligated to give their citizens what they want. But I believe such mentality is one of the reasons, why EU has faced such predicaments in recent years.
Keeping all this in mind, it is hard to imagine what Europe would be like in 16 years. In my opinion, if the main objective of the EU will remain wealth, it may involve itself into conflicts over natural resources just like the US has done in the past (Iraq, Afghanistan). And we can see that looking after their own interests in such a way has led the United States to a stupendous loss of power. I think such fate would also shine upon Europe if it should try to divide and conquer its way into prosperity. Yet Europe is not as powerful as the US was after the Cold War, so waging war would probably bring about the disintegration and elimination of the European Union as a geopolitical player.
Onthe other hand, Europe may take a different route. After the annexation of Crimea the relations between Russia and the EU have become tense. If this would blow out of proportions, it may result in Russia putting economic pressure on Europe and, knowing how dependent we are on the natural resources they sell, it would lead to a catastrophe. But some good might come out of such difficulties. If the supply of oil and natural gas would be diminished, European countries would be forced to look for new ways of acquiring energy. The consumerist public would demand the same standards of living as before and the EU would be obliged to invest a lot of money into renewable resources. The beauty of this is that natural resources are finite and Europe would not be affected by the increase of prices of oil and gas as the supplies ran low. At some point, the EU might even have a chance to sell ecological energy. This scenario would set the European Union as one of the top powers of the world.
As Zygmunt Bauman once wrote: “Europe is a mission – something to be made, created, built. And it takes a lot of ingenuity, sense of purpose and hard labour to accomplish that mission.” Right now it is really hard to predict how Europe will look like in 2030. But I think that the future of Europe is bound by the disposition of its citizens. It all depends whether people of Europe will find in them the “sense of purpose” that Bauman mentions and whether or not they will st