Does the European Union still exist?

This article was published on June 19, 2024, on, a web magazine edited by Raposo. Translation: John Catalinotto.

The political forces that have dominated the institutions of the European Union were very pleased to have managed to maintain their majority in parliament in the recent elections on June 6-9. But they cannot mask the political turmoil resulting from the growth, in key countries such as France or Germany, of parties opposed to the line taken by Brussels, particularly regarding the conduct of the war in Ukraine and the subordination of the EU to the dictates of the U.S.

Everything indicates that we have entered a period of political change with profound consequences. Going back to the origins of the European Union, remembering the conflicts it has been through could be useful in assessing the extent of the change. All the more so since this change is not limited to Europe but is the result of a transformation that is taking place in the imperialist camp and in its relations with the rest of the world.

At the origin, the necessary reconstruction

The European Union has always lived — from its earliest days, in the years following the Second World War — in a contradiction that has tended to tear it apart.

On the one hand, the economic reconstruction of a territory destroyed by war was imposed on all countries without exception as an absolute necessity and of the utmost urgency. The creation of the first European Coal and Steel Community (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, 1951) corresponded to this effort.

At the same time, and alongside economic recovery, the constitution of Europe as a political bloc was essential for the imperialist West, already led by the USA, in order to face the challenges that the division of the world into two blocs would pose.

NATO — bringing together democratic and fascist regimes and even recruiting Nazi cadres, but making itself out to be the champion of the “free world” — was set up as the military guardian of this European recovery, which meant being the weapon to fight Eastern Europe and the USSR.

European development, under the impetus of U.S. capital (which had been strengthened by the war), would be a shield against any socialist or revolutionary ideas that might take place in Europe and an important arm of the U.S. in its quest for hegemony in the imperialist arena.

In the 20 years following the war, in fact, the new imperialism that was taking shape under the U.S. baton would have to face the victory of the Chinese revolution, the Korean and Indochina wars, the Cuban and Algerian revolutions, the independence struggles of the African and Asian colonies. The impetuous economic development and political and military cohesion achieved by Western capitalism were the basis for the formation of the imperialist bloc formed by the USA, Western Europe and Japan.

Europe’s imperialist ambition

On the other hand, however, the revival of European capitalism and the political cohesion that was being forged between its leading countries posed a threat to U.S. hegemony. The natural expansionism of European big business, which the EU was trying to consolidate in its various stages, challenged U.S. domination, insofar as the “European project” tended to generate an imperialism that competed with the U.S.

When, in the 1960s, President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from the unified command of NATO (dominated absolutely by the U.S.) and spoke of a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals; and when Chancellor Willy Brandt, in what was then the Federal Republic of Germany [West Germany], launched the New Eastern Policy (Neue Ostpolitik), it was clear that the two main powers of the then EEC saw their relationship with the U.S. not only in terms of collaboration, but also, as far as possible, in terms of political autonomy and competition.

Both saw Eastern Europe and the USSR, even in the midst of the Cold War, as territories within Europe’s sphere of influence, for which the EEC could develop its own policies — not just diplomatically, but above all economically and politically.

The geographical continuity between Europe and Russian territory played into this ambition, making it “natural” for European capital to try to benefit from the immense resources (industrial, agricultural, mineral, energy) that stretched from the “Iron Curtain” to the Far East.

The U.S. against Europe

The U.S. has always tried to combat the ambitions of the European powers by any means possible. Its main weapons have been, and continue to be, economic, technological and military. However, as the U.S.’s economic power waned and its technological advantages came up against worthy competitors, its military dominance gained in importance, becoming the main means not only of confronting its enemies but also of keeping the imperialist camp together. The last 30 years have shown this.

German imperialism’s adventure in the Balkans in 1991 (backed by Austria and the Vatican) to fragment Yugoslavia resulted in the U.S. and NATO entering the region in force to defeat Serbia’s resistance and show who’s boss in these geopolitical affairs. The largest U.S. military base outside the U.S. was thus set up in Kosovo and another NATO base in Albania. German imperial ambitions, driven by the reunification process, had to make do with vacation resorts on the Adriatic coasts.

With the two Gulf Wars (1991 and 2003), the U.S. directly confronted the so-called Franco-German axis. By taking over the oil in the Middle East, they. wanted to constrain economic growth and subject the whole world politically — including also Europe, Japan and other “friends.” Europe’s last stand was then led by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who opposed the [U.S.-British] invasion of Iraq without being able to stop it. France and Germany resigned themselves to U.S. preponderance.

The final blow to Europe’s “strategic autonomy” — whether economic, political or military — came recently, with the war in Ukraine already underway. First, it was the blackmail to impose sanctions on Russia, which meant plunging the European economy into an unprecedented crisis with no end in sight. Then there was the coup de grace for the German economy with the destruction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline by the U.S. secret services, without the German leadership daring to make a peep.

Feb. 7, 2022, President Joe Biden told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Nord Stream 2 will be destroyed. Above are traces of the Sept. 27, 2022, explosion.

Finally, after putting the war in Ukraine into full swing, the U.S. is trying to push the human and material costs of the war onto Europe and the EU, worsening the living conditions of Europe’s populations and leading to the liquidation of the European welfare state. Through war — be it military, political or economic — the U.S. has turned Europe into a vassal to a degree that had never been achieved before.

A further step is being taken these days with U.S. pressure for Europe to follow U.S. interests in its confrontation with China and to cut economic ties with Beijing.

The end of the original contradiction

In view of the signs given by the last few decades, the contradiction that marked the birth and growth of European unity is therefore tending to be resolved by the absolute submission of European capitalism to U.S. capitalism. The ambitions of European (sub)imperialism thus lose any basis for asserting themselves. Europe and the EU have been reduced to the status of pawns of U.S. imperialism.

Even if the conflicts of interest between European and U.S. capitalism don’t disappear, their political manifestation — which has taken the form of an attempt to create a European bloc with its own identity — is crushed by tying Europe and the EU to the strict hegemonic interests of the U.S.

New contradictions, new conflicts

The powers that be in most European countries have been following this path like sheep, particularly since the start of the war in Ukraine. The EU’s governing bodies, for their part, are now agents of the policy defined in Washington. The disregard in which they are held by the populations of the member countries is measured by the massive abstention systematically seen in the elections to the European Parliament (50% in this year’s elections).

This path has not been without conflict and dissent. The EU, in particular, has suffered successive upheavals barely masked by the apparent unity displayed by its institutions. Nationalist in form, these centrifugal movements are a sign of the internal disintegration of the imperialist camp formed in the second half of the 20th century.

The EU, an empty shell

It is therefore worth asking whether the purpose which, on the European side, fueled the creation of the Union in its various stages, still has any legs to stand on. The EU’s ruling elite does everything it can to make it look like it does, but reality shows that divisions between member countries are deepening as the conflicts of interest caused by European capital’s loss of autonomy worsen.

It is in the patent absolute domination of the U.S., in its dictatorial impositions — not just resulting from the war in Ukraine, but stemming from the effort to maintain hegemony over the whole world — that the reason must ultimately be sought for the growing divisions between European countries that tear up the EU and threaten to break it apart. To a large extent, the EU is already an empty shell. The signs are many.

Goodbye prosperity, goodbye peace

First of all, the economic and political debacle caused by the war is obvious. The promises of prosperity and eternal peace that fueled the “European project,” which have been irreparably compromised, have turned into their opposite: a call for material sacrifice and a mindset for war.

Even if, for the time being, there is no public opinion willing to fight for an end to the conflict, the visible worsening of living conditions, the fear of the spread of the war, the pressure to increase military spending, the threat to European social policies that all this entails alarms people.

These have been sufficient reasons for governments such as Hungary or Slovakia (members of the EU) or Serbia (a candidate for the EU) to put up strong obstacles to NATO’s determinations and those of the subservient ruling clique in Brussels. Regardless of their political color, what marks the position of these governments is their attempt to assume a sovereign position in the face of an EU that is in thrall to the U.S. and oblivious to the interests of the people of Europe.

Nationalism is reborn

It’s no wonder that, more generally, nationalism (in the immediate sense of strengthening sovereignty to defend national interests) is being reborn and gaining support in several countries. As a result, the dream of a European federation, nurtured by the major powers, is falling apart. The results of the recent elections to the European Parliament show a marked growth in these currents, not only in second-tier countries, but also in central powers such as France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

It’s not just right-wing nationalism (“populist,” the EU barons like to call it, scornfully, as if it were a crime to defend popular interests!) that embodies this resistance. The example, albeit solitary, of Slovakia and Serbia shows that the same behavior can be embodied by other political forces.

The broken ‘axis’

But it’s not just nationalism that divides the EU. The very direct action of the U.S. and even of EU summits is turning against the Union’s intended cohesion. The establishment in 2016 of the Three Seas Initiative (Baltic, Adriatic, Black), bringing together 12 countries located on the eastern front of Europe, immediately became a U.S. weapon in confronting Russia — far from the announced purpose of creating mere “cooperation on economic issues.”

Poland, Czechia and the three Baltic countries, for example, have systematically taken ultrahawkish positions on the war, becoming NATO’s spearheads when other EU members need to be prodded into supporting Ukraine, as happened at one point with Germany.

The caution that up to a certain point could be seen in the French or German position on the war (for example, in the restrictions on arms supplies) was gradually defeated by NATO hawks and by internal forces in the countries themselves.

The so-called Franco-German axis, touted as the driving force behind the EU — both economically and in terms of its political definition — simply no longer exists, and what we see today is a slugfest between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to win the favor of the U.S. as its representatives in Europe.

The vital battle of imperialism

U.S. imperialism is fighting its vital battle against China and Russia. It is increasingly facing distrust and opposition from the countries of the dependent world. It cannot afford to have allies who are insecure or who want to pursue a policy driven by self-interest; it needs to have them firmly tied down in order to put them at the service of its sole purpose: to halt the decline of its domination over the world.

In this sense, we are witnessing the process that will lead to the end of post-war imperialism as we have known it until now.

The submission of all the hitherto allies is a condition for this. “F**k the EU,” said Victoria Nuland in 2014 when she was in charge of the coup in Kiev. Biden said practically the same thing when he publicly announced, in front of a dumbfounded German chancellor, the imminent end of Nord Stream 2.

This strategic submission takes place in all fields — economic, political, military and diplomatic — and takes the form of a dictatorship voluntarily accepted by the so-called “allies.” This U.S. dictatorship over the imperialist camp leads to the inevitable hollowing out (possibly break-up) of the EU as an economic power and as a political entity.

The end of an era

The attachment of European capitalism to U.S. imperialism (something similar is happening regarding Japan) has notable consequences.

a) What has been called the Imperialist Triad (USA-EU-Japan) is tending to become an imperialist bloc with a single head and a single strategy: to guarantee the survival of U.S. hegemony, on which Europe and Japan, lacking the means to assert themselves, are becoming entirely dependent.

b) A certain division of tasks and spaces of influence that existed until recently between the three poles of the Triad is tending to be erased in favor of exclusive U.S. dominance. However, economic decline and growing political discredit mean that the U.S. has neither the time nor the capacity to take on such a mission. The risks of generalized war are growing to the extent that U.S. imperialism, confident in its military potential, may try to run out of time in a headlong rush.

c) The severing of trade relations with Russia, in particular the loss of its cheap energy sources, subjects Europe to the condition of obligatory U.S. customer at much higher prices. In the immediate term, this is a great deal for U.S. companies, but in the long term, it means that Western capitalism as a whole will be deprived of much more abundant and cheaper resources from the rest of the world — on the plunder of which, let’s remember, its status as imperialist capitalism is based.

If we add to this the decrease of trade with China, which the U.S. promotes, and the resistance of dependent countries to ceding their resources, as they have done so far, it is certain that the economic health of imperialism will go from bad to worse.

d) By subjugating the EU and Europe, the U.S. gains an obedient vassal, but no longer has an ally with its own will and capabilities. The same can be said of subjugating Japan. In a sense, imperialism is cutting off the branch it has been sitting on for 80 years.

e) The idea that the so-called Third World’s privileged relations with the EU could be an alternative to U.S. domination has lost its meaning, making dependent countries less prone to mirages of “neutrality” in international relations. The field for non-aligned countries is narrowing and there is a tendency to divide the world into two antagonistic blocs.

f) The rest of the world is trying to organize itself, outside the imperialist orbit, according to national or regional interests (BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, regional associations), seeking support from powers like China and Russia. This path has been made possible by the industrial development that has taken place in many of the so-called underdeveloped countries, which have thus been able to take steps out of the ancestral backwardness in which they were kept by colonialism and imperialism.

Capitalist globalization, driven by the imperialist West with the end of the Cold War, has generated material conditions in the rest of the world that now call imperialist domination into question.

g) The major contradiction in the world today, between imperialism and the dependent peoples, is taking on a dimension never seen before.

New challenges for the left

The anti-capitalist left is facing a situation with new contours that did not arise two or three years ago.

In Europe today, the opposition to the forces in power is led by the right and the extreme right. The nationalism they espouse, however, shows the narrowness of their political aims, since the problems that arise — resulting from the transformations that are taking place in the very organization of imperialism, in the growing role of dependent countries and in the division of the world into two — cannot be solved within the national framework of each country.

The success of the far right therefore stems from its finding an open field for its nationalist demagogy. This is helped by the fact that the institutional left has deserted the anti-imperialist struggle and that the anti-capitalist left has neither a coherent program nor the political presence to take on the leadership of a popular movement, necessarily international, which would take on the task.

The new reality points to the need to unhesitatingly identify U.S. imperialism as the enemy to be fought; to support the peoples of the whole world without exception in their struggle to reject imperialism; to see the EU as a servant with no will of its own destined to succumb to U.S. rule; to fight the stupid illusion of wanting to “reform,” “renew” or “democratize” an EU that the very party concerned, big monopoly capital, no longer shows it has the means or the will to defend [against U.S. hegemony].

Raising the popular anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle is a prerequisite to avoid giving free rein to fascist, right-wing or nationalist bourgeois forces in the resistance against the excesses of a dying imperialism.

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