Ireland: Europe, yes – United States of Europe, thank you!

Ireland: Europe, yes - United States of Europe, thank you!

according to Eurobarometer 75% of the Irish population has a good image of the European Union. However, the island state has repeatedly attracted attention by criticizing the union’s growing political influence. Emily Schreier, author of, explains why this paradox is not as paradoxical as it first appears.

“It simply came to our notice then […] All over Europe in a few years […] Free and happy. This means the renewal of the European family, or at least the largest part of it. We must give her an order in which she can live in peace, security and freedom. We need to establish a kind of United States of Europe. ” Winston Churchill, 1946

Since the beginning of European unification, there have been repeated calls for the establishment of the United States of Europe. Ursula von der Lane spoke out in 2011 for an EU government “Switzerland, Germany or the USA on the model of federal states” End. Today, von der Lane is President of the European Commission, a leading institution, Gaining influence over the past few years Is the winner.

But not every member state is convinced of this vision of the future. The most important example is the United Kingdom, which decided to leave the Union in 2016. In hindsight, the United Kingdom is often dismissed as the black sheep of the Union: it will never want to be a member and will mourn its past as a world power. But other member states are critical of further political integration without the goal of exiting. For example, if you look at the direct neighbors of the United Kingdom, for example: Ireland has always been opposed to the European Commission expanding its powers. At the same time, the member state has one of the highest ratification rates in the European Union, which is clearly pro-European. So where does your doubt come from?

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There is no other choice

Before Ireland joined the European Union in 1973, the Young Republic was considered one of the most isolated countries in Europe. There were only economic and political ties with the United Kingdom. When I applied for EU membership, Ireland had no choice but to join the initiative. This context has had a lasting impact on Ireland’s relations with the European Union: sovereignty and the protection of the national interest are key issues in Irish politics. Domestically, EU membership was justified by the need to strengthen independence from the United Kingdom. By joining the European Union, Ireland gained more room for intrigue in its relationship with the United Kingdom.

Based on this experience, the Republic is skeptical of the impact that large states and the dominant decision-making bodies of the European Union can have on a small state like Ireland. At the European Union level, Ireland wants to pursue its national interests through national politicians. That is why the Council of Europe serves as the primary reference point for Irish actors. Ireland has strong practicalities in relation to the European Union. The national interest has always been above the great idea of ​​European unification.

Gains sovereignty instead of losing

Member states like Ireland have never been interested in creating the United States of Europe. For them, the European Union promises a safe haven to secure their sovereignty. Since joining the European Union about 50 years ago, Ireland’s economy has greatly benefited from EU membership. The Republic was able to improve the unequal relationship with the United Kingdom and ease the conflict in Northern Ireland. These improvements give the EU a high approval rating. At the same time, Ireland doubts whether EU institutions represent all member states equally.

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Recently, there was a disbelief about the influence of the European Commission in the Brexit talks. Ireland has previously demanded that only the Council of Europe be empowered to negotiate exit talks. This will ensure the influence of heads of state and government. However, when the Commission appeared to defend Ireland’s national interests during the negotiations, Ireland’s confidence in them increased. Ultimately, it was this positive experience that prompted Ireland to accept the authority of the European Commission in the negotiations.

More realistic in dealing with smaller member states

After the UK left the European Union, Ireland moved further politically away from Great Britain, instead moving to the European Union. The Irish government not only sees economic gains in this, but also reiterates the EU’s need for peacekeeping.

From the EU point of view, this development is certainly to be welcomed. However, this relationship should not be romanticized, for example, with a sound article convincing the Foreign Office “Ireland after Brexit: European, especially now!” Doing. Strengthening confidence in the EU Commission is certainly important and we can look forward to success. But there must be a more realistic approach to dealing with small, peripheral states in European politics.

There is no need to fear that big countries like Germany and France will lose power if the EU Commission increases its influence. On the other hand, countries like Ireland have had to fight for their national independence for decades, and national interests can only be established to a limited extent through the intervention of EU institutions. Ireland’s pro – European stance arose out of favor with the Irish interests of the European Union, not because it believed in the broader goal of a united Europe. In this regard, growing confidence should not be mistaken for recognition of the growing influence of the EU Commission. Being pro-European does not mean alienation.

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