Everything Seems Alright?

Feeling secure already? Everything’s seems alright? Isn’t it?

At least, several turmoil has just hit the core of Europe these months. Madrid, Oslo, Athena and even London has become the victim of unexpectedly horizontal conflict and crisis. Most of these countries are members of OECD, the well-known organizations for developed countries, but yet, these recent trends showing us that, no matter how developed their economy, how advanced their education and technology, and how sustainable their social condition, there’s some hidden flaws in the so-called marvelous and prosperous Europe.

European Dream

The beauty of Danube River (courtesy: molon.de)

There’s should be something wrong with Europe with all of these recent instabilities that happened sporadically.

Europe has been a really attractive continent. It is stable, enjoyed the best economy development, joyous, progressive and seems, there’s no serious problem occurred there. This make people (esp. immigrants) think that it might be better to go to Europe rather than America as the best place to start and find jobs to have a better living rather than going to America.

And it did proved. Around 1960-1980s, millions of immigrants are leaving their origins, from the uphill of Kabul to the desert of Abuja, seeking for refuge and wonderful life ahead in beautiful and wondrous cities such as Madrid and Paris. They’re trying to leave out miseries of war and endless conflicts, and finding a way for continue living without being an innocent victim in political crisis happening in their countries, which become the active belligerents of Cold War.

Even though the journey is hard for an immigrant to go to Europe, they won’t care. Their strife will be soon paid as they reach Europe, no matter how they will be. Most of them were successful, and some of them were getting an enough accomplishment, no more and no less. Working as a blue-collar workers seems to be enough, as long as money keeping them sustained and they can feel an ultimate security and peace that they have seek.

Not only the immigrants, but also the European citizen themselves feel grateful to be the citizen of Europe. They feel blessed to born on the land of the free. They get everything here – free education, good bureaucracy, awesome places, good prices, and happiness – and nothing seems to bother them to live in Europe. Europe is everything.

But in recent decades? All of those good picture of Europe seems to be torn apart. Image of Europe as a whole unity that shows its inexplicable beauty, now turns into a ripping images of hidden wounds and diseases.

Financial Instability

Whose investor doesn’t want to invest their money in Europe? Of course, many wants to. Although for nowadays, Asia seems to have a better prospect for those investors, Europe is still becoming one of the favorite place to play with some money and doing some business. It’s easy to start a business, although the market is already filled and you have to prepare a lot sum of money, but if you can make one, you would gain money quickly to cover up your initial asset.

Doing business in Europe is also an efficient way, because they have one single currency, so investors doesn’t have to be worried about the fluctuating exchange rates or some kind of it. And yes, Euro is one of the most stable and secured currency in the world.

At least, until 2008, when the global economy is walking to the road of malaise. The bad management of  sub-prime mortgage issues, credit failures by financial institutions and currently the threat of debt-paying failure in the US economy starts a trigger for rattles of deadly bullets to shot down the business in many countries, and Europe is also wounded by this bullet.

In the past, European banks is one of the most trusted financial institutions because of its transparency and its stability. But, it’s not applied anymore. Some of the national and private banks in certain European countries, ranging from Iceland to Greece, has been failed to survive the tidal wave of crisis, and this failure has led to economic instabilities in the government. People feels something’s wrong with daily prices that suddenly hikes, and investors suddenly found their balances to be positioned more negatively than before. When people starts demonstrating and the fire of rage sets up everywhere, like that one in Athens, government starts to panicked and when they also lose investors, the government got everything left. What’s left in front of them is a pile of debt that is need to be paid.

Riot in Athens (courtesy: hurriyet.tr)

With all of these instabilities, and also the fluctuation of domestic and global market, the government couldn’t simply paid the debt and stabilize the market. At least, they have EU. European Union is the last place for these European countries to ask help and solidarity from its fellow members.

If the instability were only occurred on Greece, there will be no problem. But how about Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal? These EU members also asks for kind assistance, and it couldn’t be given easily. On Greece’s case, it’s quite difficult to convince all members to help their poor fellow. It ain’t easy, because the bailout which is supposed to be given is coming from the tax of European citizen, and they can’t easily giving it freely without condition.

In Greece’s case, it’s not really done enough, but they starting to be healed with bailout packages given. But it’s an unpleasant conditions for Spain and Italy, who must endure a painful fact that their demand for bailout request is not fulfilled by EU.

Euro is not among one of the most secured currency, and yes, people today might think twice before they actually invest in Europe.

Social structure: Is it that cohesive?

We are all Europeans (courtesy: reuters.com)

We might be amazed by the diversities of European cultures.

Many said that Europe’s is blessed with multiculturalism. Imagine, all kind of different European-based race (Germans, British, Scandinavian, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Slavs) coexisted in peaceful condition with various immigrants coming from Africa and Asia. The multiculturalism is maintained really well and there’s no suspicions among these groups (except for several far-right group who considers immigrant as the bad group that should be removed away).

With good management, government could keep the cohesion among this diverse society. There’s also no breaking gap between the poor and the rich, since the social security is assured from the government budget, and this could help more in minimizing disparities that could result in horizontal friction.

European Union works really hard to keep the practical value of social cohesion keep applied in all of the EU members.

After 2000s, these efforts seemingly in a turning down point. 9/11 makes everybody suspicious for everything ‘Islamic’ and ‘Arabic’, even though European Muslim and Arabs suffer less discrimination rather than their fellows in USA.

Multiculturalism is at its stake when Sarkozy ridden out thousands of Romans from France because they don’t have right to stay and living there. African and Caribbean immigrants living in the suburb of London for once might enjoy a superb life, until they feel something is unfair. Uneasily seeking for job, widening gap, and exclusion from society makes these community living in Tottenham create gangs as their way to be existed and easily gaining power.

Voila, when Mark Duggan, a cocaine dealer shot, the anger culminate and expressed in a way of anarchism by these suppressed and excluded people.

How UK government face this? Up until now, the government still unable to heal the deep wound that has been keep under the heart of these excluded society. It’s gonna take some time to ensure the social cohesion in UK restored back.

Secure enough?

Oslo is an easy-going city, filled with usual magnificence of Scandinavian city with priceless heritages and post-mo architecture set so beautifully in the heart of it. Surrounded by fjord and forest, the city gives a real peace for its citizen.

Until a mobster suddenly shock the world with his explosion in the peaceful and enjoyable Oslo, and also the Utoeya Island.

Recent riots in big cities of Europe also tells the same story.

When these countries calls another country in Asia and Africa are in danger of terrorism and instability, when they face it directly in front of their eyes, they just paused for a while, thinking how possible is an impossible chance of turmoil could be happened, amidst their fine living.

Political clashes

It’s not a secret that European countries are still having a few frictions that is originated from centuries before. Remember, France-Germany? The vengeance between these two neighbor seems to have a never ending story until the end of World War II. In the case of Greek bailout, France has several difficulties in approaching Germany to give their money for the bailout. The Germans always unclear about their answer, but it’s rather “Nein” than “Ja”, and makes France frustrates.

France implied a strong pressure for Germany to answer “Oui”. But, German sees this as challenge, and therefore? German threaten to get out from the EU.

Other political differences in EU can be seen also when Germany considers that attacking Libya is not an option, and they are not obliging toward the Common Political and Foreign Policy of the EU.

Another thing, people start to lose their faith for EU. Economy’s began to crumble, since their currency is only one, and if it’s rotten, which currency they have to take? This is where far-right comes in. The trends of far-right politicians (which emphasize strongly on national interest and doesn’t give a damn on supranational entity) that recently ruling several governments in Europe shows that the effort of regionalism to unite all of Europe seems to facing the darkest moment.

One of the main uncertainties

A big question to be answered by everyone

Europe is a big question mark for most of people right now. Uncertainty began to arise as Europe’s is facing up into the dangerous tsunami that is ready to destroy anything in front of them.

Could European countries handle these problems? As I saw yesterday in Stephen Waltz article in FP, that he’s among the pessimistic when he’s looking at Europe now (esp. the EU). Is it gonna ripped apart, or pulling themselves together? He answers, “the Europe might be not disintegrated easily, but perhaps they gonna face a bleaker future..”

When it will take some time for EU to answer the question, yes,  starting from now some people might be looking Europe in a different way.




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