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The Muse

March 21, 2005

EU and the next great Muslim state

I've been following the development of the European Union with great interest. Ideally, the concept makes a lot of sense. The establishment of the EU is possibly the only feasible alternative to balance the power of the United States in the global arena. And it is almost logical, given the geography and dependence of the major European countries. Admittedly, there are a few sticky issues, but on the whole there is a strong case for the formation of the EU. So why is the UK so hesitant to jump in, and what are some of the primary issues that are hindering the formation of the EU? I posed this question to a professor of mine over lunch and we had a truly fascinating discussion - some excerpts follow:

The British historically detest the French [true!]. And the creation of a EU is contingent on the fact that France and Germany dominate in terms of policies, constitution and foreign policy.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, is almost choking. The economy is lagging, unemployment is rampant. Due to ageing,the size of Germany's working-age population has shrunk somewhat faster than in other European countries. Lower employment rates and reduced working hours per employee have impacted growth too. Further, there is outsourcing. Siemens showed record profits after moving 30% of its workforce overseas. Bloomberg reports: "Germany's $2 trillion economy unexpectedly shrank in the October-December quarter, and an increase in unemployment in February to the highest since World War II hurt the outlook for domestic spending. The Kiel Institute for World Economics cut its growth forecast to 0.6 percent, the lowest of the six state-funded economic research institutes, from 0.8 percent." It is no wonder then, that the UK, which has a growth of around 3-3.5% expected, is not too excited about merging itself.

Then there is the question of Turkey. France has 5 million Muslims and is having serious issues with integrating them into its society. Turkey has 70 million, one can just imagine the issues and fear involved. Dominique Moisi, the deputy director of the French Foreign Affairs Institute says "What is at the heart of French concerns is size and it is Islam. We have 5 million Muslims in France and we see Turkey and we spontaneously think of the difficulties in French society. It is [about] fear, stereotypes, prejudice. We have failed to integrate 5 million Muslims; how can Europe succeed in integrating 70 million?"

And related to this, is the dynamic of the the whole EU state. Unlike America, current European countries are not Christian majorities. In fact, the major religion in Europe now is atheism. When Turkey joins in, the EU will have Islam as its primary religion. A quote from a senior conservative Germany aid "If Turkey comes into the EU in 2015, they might have more inhabitants than Germany. It might be 80 million or more, it might well become the biggest member, with mostly Muslims. This is not a question that we don't want Muslims here and so on, but it is another culture." Throw in the fact that Turkey's majority party now is the very conservative “Islamist” Justice and Development Party (AKP), and it is no wonder that serious issues are arising

One must also consider the openly xenphobic reaction, as the IHT reports " ...for the fourth year in a row the most popular name for newborn boys in Brussels is Muhammed".. and thus, will the EU be the next Muslim state?


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