European Union / Croatia – In this article, Dr Tado Jurić presents his critics on the EU, as a structure built for colonization of post-Socialist countries. Reviewing the topics of sovereignty, demographics or European funds, Dr Tado Jurić explains why the CEE countries face, beyond the Covid-19 crisis, an other issue within the EU that many do not understand in the West, providing that they are even aware of it.
I. EU as union of non-solidarity
World history is abundant in perished peoples, states and empires. Three large empires vanished only in 20th century – Ottoman Empire, Russian Empire, and Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Contemporary postmodern human lives in an illusion that only “Others” perish. Majority is convinced that their nations and countries will live through. Such illusion was shared in the past by many, and it will be common in the future. When monarchies, empires and states are collapsing, they are hanging on to their elites. Tragedy of elites is their unawareness that their system is perishing and disappearing (D. Šakanović 2017). It is sufficient just to observe communist or contemporary elites.
The only illusion of false stability are institutions. European sovereignists claim for a while that EU is founded only on principles of “monetary union”. Surprisingly, Macron started using almost similar rhetoric by the end of March 2020. Namely, lack of solidarity and economic interventionism in suppression of COVID-19 pandemic and migrant crisis clearly show important weaknesses of EU. Many member-states are thus reassessing their status inside EU. “Time of Western hegemony is far behind us. European Union is disappearing and world is mustering around two major poles – on the one side the USA, and on the other Russia and China.” These are verbatim word of French president Macron after G7 summit in August 2019. In an interview for La Reppublica (27 March 2020), Macron posed a question: “Did European Union, that is Euro-zone, became only monetary institution…?” On the other hand, German chancellor Angela Merkel in her address to the nation (18 March 2020) failed to mention European Union. Unity of European Union is really questionable. (N. Babić, “EU je običnamonetarnaunija”, Logicno.com, 29 March 2020). Former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel expressed concerns over European Union dissolution in case lack of solidarity over COVID-19 pandemic continues. “If we are not ready to share prosperity, then I cannot predict European future. […] I am concerned that Europe could dissolve after this crisis”. (Večernji.hr., 28 March 2020). Italy has been particularly critical towards France and Germany after they refused to send facemasks and other medical equipment at a beginning of the pandemic. Nevertheless, China sent aid.
Although every war period is characterized by the lack of solidarity among nations, no one expected that something similar could happen in European Union. Infected and deceased are being counted on national basis and nobody is counting dead Europeans. Border controls have been reintroduced and freedom of movement questioned. Generally, many pillars of EU failed in their missions, including Solidarity pact – the main instrument for pacification of South-Eastern Europe. Future EU-candidates, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, were proven to be unimportant in the time of crisis.
Some consider that EU will last forever with its nations “united” in “solidarity community”. This is illusion because we never seen failed political communities. When states collapse, their elites perish. Dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy ruined lives of more than hundred thousand of clerks, soldiers, teachers, doctors and others inextricably linked to the failed state-system. Their ways of life, careers and culture perished as well. Similar processes occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ottoman Empire or Yugoslavia. Tragedy was that only few realized their system is being unmade. (D. Šakanović 2017.)
Precisely because of these EU policies which were made obvious during the migrant crisis, lack of interest for the emigration from its peripheries and selfish stances during the pandemic, it is clear that EU is not a community of similar values and solidarity as it was being self-fashioned. EU was even before the crisis more similar to interest- and profit-community. In the end, profit was the main reason why EU failed to take effective measures in fight against the pandemic (i.e. by stopping all air planes from China). European Union never cared for its periphery and even less for South-Eastern Europe which was bluntly obvious during the Yugoslav war of dissolution (Homeland war for Croatian independence).
II. First they took our companies, then money, then people
“Eastern Europe gives more to West than it gets back” is the title of a column in Financial Times written by Romanian EU-representative Clotilde Armand (March 2020.).
“Majority of European wealth is being transferred from poorer to richer countries, not the other way around.” “European periphery gives young, educated and competent workers which were educated by tax payers from those countries, and they get nothing in return.” (D. Majetić, 2020, Glas Slavonije).
Michael Bloomberg points similarly that Western capital colonized Eastern Europe. More precisely, Western part of EU colonized its Eastern and South-Eastern part. T. Piketty (2019.) presents the facts that between 2010 and 2016 annual reflux of profit from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia was 4.7% of GDP, Poland 7.2%, Hungary 7.6%, Czechia 4.2%. Piketty also stresses that all of these countries got back less money from the EU funds and budget than they have directly or indirectly contributed. Additionally, more than 20% of population already emigrated from Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Croatia with no signs of changing trends. This gives us broader context of demographic, economic and political desolation of post-communist states. (D. Majetić, 2020, Glas Slavonije). First, they took our companies, afterwards they took the people.
Hypothesis that EU-core is draining its periphery is easier to prove nowadays than in the past. In Croatian case we can observe that Croatia gave Germany one full state budget in recent years. With every citizen that leaves the country, Croatia loses between 50 and 150 euros, depending on the level of qualification. On the other hand, Germany profits up to three times on the same worker, since education in Germany is three times more expensive. None of the EU-funds can subsidize billions of losses Croatia experiences because of these policies. So, Croatia “gave” Germany one annual state budget for education of qualified workers – more than 18 billion euros!
The main problem, not only in Croatia, but in all South-Eastern Europe is the 20% population loss in last 15 years. Bosnia-Herzegovina could decrease to 2 million people in next 5 years if the emigration continues. All our analysis show that number of citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina is for a million less than official records present. We can predict on the basis of Eurostat data that emigration from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia will count more than 100 000 citizens annually in next 5 years. All South-Eastern Europe is rapidly being emptied. Germany sucked up complete working force of Eastern Europe and its surroundings. Šterc (2018) warns that South-Eastern Europe has been turned to holiday house in peace conditions and a shield in case of mass migration from Africa and Asia.
III. Contemporary great migration to Europe
The longue-durée processes are focused on transition of Croatian people and social capital from Bosnia-Herzegovina towards Central Europe. Structuralism theory considers international migrations are being produced, and are not neutral and coincidental. Migrations are not unintentional social phenomena. Small South-Eastern European nations are more exposed to migration because of globalization and have insignificant power to influence migrations. After joining Eu with main principles of mobile working force, their position weakened. Croatians expected affluence from EU and not the collapse of system which threatens because of mass emigration.
Šterc warns that broader area of South-Eastern Europe in last decade shows signs of substitution of its population. Instead of less numerous domicile population these strategically and civilizational important spaces should be dominated by the “others” due to substitution processes. The process is at the starting phase and is mostly related with working force and ownership over real estates and companies. Since it occurs in conditions of inexistent selection policies and lack of any population concepts, it is likely these processes will intensify and accelerate. Šterc stresses that spaces are conquered by demographic policies in contemporary world. Wars are avoided, but spaces are being controlled by populations. Migrations are being used as means of overmastering new areas. Whether we like it or not, when populations disappear, they are being replaced by new populations.
Mass migrations, such as those that ruined numerous empires during history (i.e. Roman Empire) are always controlled and governed. Demographic policies conquer spaces more than previously. Wars are being avoided, but spaces are being controlled by populations. Migrations are new ways to conquer spaces. “We know that great migrations destroyed empires when they become larger in numbers and they are uncontrollable.” (Šterc 2013)“Every provocation of larger migrations can become powerful weapon of conquest. Substitution of population is the worst-case scenario for Croatia. Population that vanishes in particular area is being replaced by some new population, whether we like it or not.” (Šterc, 2013).
Considering these facts, we can pose a question if 3/4 of world population could be hold back in Africa and Asia without serious migrations towards Europe? On the other hand, Europe is projected to lose 100 million of people by the end of the century due to natural trends (without migrations), and is thus demographically aging, dying and disappearing (UN 2019). Simultaneously, Africa is projected to increase its population by 500 million in next 15 years, 1.3 billion in 35 years, and 3.2 billion in 85 years. In order to illustrate our example, we can just point out that number of born children in Ruanda was 8.7 at the start of 21th century.
Polšek shows that Earth needed 1000 years to double its population in the past 8000 years, a million years to reach its first billion, and only 11 years to reach 6 billion. Between 1980 and 1990 number of people increased by 923 million which equals whole Earth population in 18th century. UN optimistically predicts that world population will reach 9.4 billion by the year 2050.
IV. EU as a creation of capital
“Population substitution” (term was first used by UN in 1975) is caused by combination of low birthrate of Europeans and permanent migrations of groups with high natality. Schmidt (2015) argues that main reason for this trend is intellectual and cultural post-modern movement which created cultural preconditions for “population substitution”. They were responsible that such phenomena became understood as expression of social progress because main aim of post-modern movement is to make people feel as nothing remains that is worth fighting for. Such world-view presupposes that individual should not have attachment for any particular place since needs of capital are such that one day he works in one place, and the other day in another. Main goal is for individual not to have connections with any particular space or group of people, in order to be mobile and replaceable in every moment. We are witnessing a process of enfeeblement of historically-rooted states so they cannot take care of their territory and people, while capital is transferring people over the market as needed. In short, capitalism bought humanism.
Douglas Murray in his book “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration – Identity – Islam” (2016) claims that Europe is at the moment “killing itself”. His main conclusion is that European societies are becoming less sustainable and that EU lost its cohesive force: “By the middle of this century China will likely look like China, India (…) as India, Russia as Russia, Eastern Europe as Eastern Europe, but Western Europe will in best case scenario look like United Nations.” This is likely scenario, unless there should be war between civilizations on European borders. Heaviest burden is reserved for those living at borderlines and civilizational watersheds (S. Huntington, 1998).
Some authors introduce importance of religions in this debate and claim that Protestant countries are ruling over Europe, while Catholic and Orthodox are in decline. Mršić warns that we are missing out dangers of Protestant ethics and spirit of capitalism, while being focused on threats of Islam: “… in order to fulfil market necessities, Protestant countries deplete populations from southern and eastern (Catholic and Orthodox) countries, making their vital and demographic aspects in critical state. (…) Population depletion from poorer into richer European countries occurs under an egis of “free circulation of labour.” Free circulation of capital and dislocation of labour are most reliable ways of dispersion and annihilation of nations.” Mršić warns that European Union is not allowing equal division of capital among the nations, but uses it for development of the centre, while its periphery is in downfall. Rogić (2000) shares similar views and he accentuated long ago that main character of Croatia is dual periphery of Europe. Croatia is situated at the borders of Europe and is also modernization-periphery.
If we wanted to introduce minimum of justice in EU so we could continue to consider ourselves as community of solidarity after this crisis, then the minimum of EU policies that are necessary are:
1) principle of reciprocity – for each two workers that emigrate from Croatia to Germany, Germany should send one of theirs to Croatia. Principle of reciprocity is not a novelty in international relations and European law. In that case, we could discuss freedom of movement of labour force on EU level. Now, we are only witnessing “freedom of exploitation” of labour force.
2) Since it is considered unjust to have equal average salary on EU level, then why not to introduce common medical insurance and pension funds? These were the first ideas of creators of “united Europe.”
3) Member states, especially Germany, which is draining medical staff from their home countries should also somehow help those countries. This pandemic is particularly important in debates of emigration of medical workers and doctors. According to data of the Croatian Professional Union of Nurses, Croatia lacks 12.000 nurses to reach European average. Official statistics show that in last 9 years 7.500 nurses emigrated, while the number of those that just finished high school and left remains unclear. Also, more than one thousand specialist doctors emigrated.
Since reparations from Germany proved to be unreal, alternative opportunity is for Germany to subsidize Croatian educational infrastructure which is so precious for them, such as building of new schools and centres of excellence where scare occupations would be educated. This would, only conditionally, be win-win situation for both countries.
Article originally published on April 2, 2020, in Croatian on Geopolitika.news and translated for the Visegrád Post.