The EU has endured disagreements during the pandemic over national sovereignty after its vaccine rollout stalled. Some countries, such as Germany, had begun negotiating its own contracts with pharmaceutical companies before handing the responsibility to the EU. After a row with AstraZeneca, the bloc has experienced significant delays. Debates over integration and sovereignty have been waged for decades in Europe, but an expert believes Norway provides evidence of how the European project could “fail big time”.
Sir Paul Collier, a British development economist at Oxford University was speaking an Intelligence Squared debate in 2017.
He said: “I think the European project is a fantasy of old men who are fighting an old battle.
“They are trying to stop Germany and France having another war, Germany and France are not going to have another war.
“Here’s to my mind the acid test, Norway is not in the euro nor the European Union, the Netherlands is in both.
“If we go back to the 1940s, Germany invaded both of them. Is Germany now more likely to invade Norway than the Netherlands? Obviously the answer is no.
“The peace that has descended on Europe is nothing to do with this institution, the institution was because of a revolt against war.
“So the cultural shift created the institution, the attempt by these old guys to create a super national set of institutions without any chance of getting a super national identity is going to fail big time.”
Elif Shafak, a Turkish-British novelist, essayist, academic, public speaker, and women’s rights activist, disagreed.
She argued that other threats to Europe still exist, meaning the EU still plays a crucial role.
She said: “I disagree, I think there is a reason the entire journey of the EU started in the first place, and yes the Brussels elite did make lots of mistakes, but it is possible to reform the EU.
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He added: “I see Europe as a political project primarily by the Germans and the French.
“Some years ago, it made a catastrophic mistake of using economic instruments as political symbols, I think that was catastrophic because it created powerful economic divergence.
“That potentially gives some incentive for countries to leave, and I think the Germans have already made it pretty clear that the strategy for stopping any exit is to make British exit as painful as possible.
“So actually, I’m fearful for the implications of that strategy for us.”