tv Great Decisions in Foreign Policy PBS December 28, 2017 12:00am-12:31am PST
(dramatic music) - [narrator] the european union is under severe strain. from the collateral damage of brexit to an influx of migrants and the eurozone debt crisis. the eu is facing an existential threat to the political and economic block. the possibility of individual nations choosing to leave the eu has only fueled the debate. will this crisis spark reform, making the eu stronger than ever? or does it signal the beginning of the breakup? the european union, next on great decisions. (triumphant music) - [man] great decisions is produced by the foreign policy association in association with thomson reuters, funding for great decisions is provided by price water house coopers llp.
- [narrator] founded in the aftermath of world war ii, the european union had an ambitious goal, to end wars in europe. - one of the great and most positive historical events of the last several centuries was the creation of the european coal and steel community in the 1940s and 50s, that led to the common market, and that led to the european union and to the european currency and a linking of former adversaries, namely germany and france in constant union. - what began essentially as an economic idea, the basic idea was something that was called functionalism that is basically if you have economic cooperation and economic integration, that will lead functionally to other types of integration especially political integration. - most people in the u, most voters, the general public,
have believed that the eu is a defense mechanism against a dangerous world. it was a defense mechanism against the soviet union. it was then a defense mechanism through integrating as markets against the rise of japan, against an overly powerful united states, to even being seen potentially as a defense mechanism against the rise of china. - how do you bring together the benefits of empire big economic scale with the cultural values of the nation? the answer to that is the european union. - [narrator] the 28 countries of the eu share a single market for the trade of goods and services and most share a common currency, the euro. but budget and tax policies are left in the hands of each nation. - it is important to distinguish between the eurozone and the eu more broadly.
a lot of the issues that surrounded greece and the potential for a so called brexit and that have affected italy and spain, and some other countries portugal, have really been around the common currency, the euro, and the ways that it made it difficult for those countries to respond to their own economic crisis. - the countries that agreed to share a common currency as visionary as they may have been, as dedicated as they may have been, you can't ignore the laws of economics and if you try to share a common currency, you have to have other institutions in place. you take away two of the instruments of adjustment when some country, for instance, faces a shock. normally, it lowers the exchange rate, lowers the interest rate, that spurs the economy, increases exports, increases investment,
increases consumption and oh that helps revive the economy. europe, by having a single currency, the eurozone, took away both of these instruments. (melancholy music) - [narrator] after the 2008 financial crisis rattled global markets, it became clear that greece and a handful of other nations were living beyond their means. - greece was paying interest rates of 20 to 22% on its government debt because greece had a long history of not paying its government debt. by everyone being able to sell bonds and euros that means they can borrow a lot more, just like if everyone in america suddenly could get a credit card at three percent interest or five percent interest. so money starts pouring in to greece to spain to southern italy to ireland. - the germans and the swedes and some of the other more prosperous european economies would have to transfer resources to countries like greece
and spain and those of southern countries. so, it's a little bit unfair for the germans to blame the greeks entirely when german banks were financing this kind of rampant spending and without any real reforms in greece. - [narrator] a common currency limited national government civility to respond to the crisis. - the magnitude of the downturns and the crisis countries like greece and spain is greater than the great depression. that shows you how bad it is. in spain, youth unemployment is 50%, in greece it's over 60%. it's been a depression, it's a very serious depression had been going on for years now in greece. the greek government had to force austerity measures on the greek population because of the need to get loans from the eecb and from other european countries so they paid a very heavy price for this. but to think that they could somehow come out
of this by having more austerity, i think has been a major mistake. - we have gone through the economical crisis, some countries are doing better than other ones. we have also the refugees and migrants crisis going on since last year. - [narrator] in 2015, more than a million people from syria, other parts of the mid east and north africa flooded into europe to escape war and poverty. - now a million people sounds like a lot of people, but if you put it in the perspective of the european union's population of 500 million, it's actually two tenths of one percent. this is not a crisis of capacity which europe is able to integrate a million people, rather it was a political crisis. - the migrant crisis in europe is a challenge to the values that european democracies espoused
for decades not centuries of inclusion of freedom. it's certainly a crisis that's challenged some of the biggest successes of the last decades, the schengen agreement, the principal free economic movement free human movement across boarders, and the very visual reaction this crisis is creating against the migrants is leading to a real threat that the significant progress had been made in europe will be reversed. - to have a demographic explosion in north africa and sub saharan africa, right across the lake if you will, the mediterranean from a demographically declining europe which has jobs in prosperity and you have not only a demographic explosion in the south but political instability, corruption, wars, violence, syrian war and so on. - [narrator] it's in europe's cash strapped southern countries notably spain, italy, and greece that migrants often land. governments there want the eu to share in the burden
of accepting asylum seekers. - refugees coming into europe would have to claim asylum in the country to which they first came in, which would mean pretty much the border areas of europe, not the central part of europe and that was a sort of doubling rule that was agreed on by the eu. what happened of course when all this influx started, you had countries like hungary putting up borders and forcing these people to go around to other countries and the germans, angela merkel, with an open heart said, no we'll open our doors and when she said that, she basically killed the dublin regulation. - we are now dealing with the way we call the european union the quatas. the question is the following, does europe need foreign work from outside the european union, the answer is yes. second, to what degree what is the number without affecting the whole system.
- it's leading to a tremendous political divide where virtually every country is now 50/50 divided between a nationalist anti-migrant usually rather populist politics, and the mainstream political parties. the us has a similar divide so it's not unique, but it's more intense in europe. - [narrator] the fortress europe approach to confronting the migrant issue has gained political ground. increasing the likelihood that nationalist far right parties with anti-immigrant platforms will continue to gain power. - we've seen throughout europe as well as in north american other parts of the world the rise of the far right, and there is a certain commonality here. it's based on various forms of insecurity that elements
of these publics feel. it's economic insecurity, people who feel left behind by the global economy, by digitization, by atomization. it's physical insecurity as the threat of terrorism looms and its cultural insecurity where people fear the new multiculturalism that increased immigration has given rise to. (gentle piano) and when you have that fear, it's easy for politicians to play on that and to put forward agendas of xenophobia, of nativism, of intolerance, of islamophobia. (chanting) (cheering) - you see it in the united states, you see it in latin america, you also see it in asia. i think there are probably several causes. one of them is economic anxiety. we are discovering that old models,
in other words that gdp growth plus productivity growth equals job growth and wage growth don't work anymore. and that gdp growth plus productivity growth sometimes actually results in job losses or job stagnation. we've also seen wave stagnation. - it is possible that the eu could completely unravel, but if the leaders of europe can beat back the euro-skepticism that is on the rise, they can, i would hope, repair and save the european project but it is going to be very very tough and it can't be just going back to buness as usual. - [narrator] critics of the eu known as euro-skeptics say leaders in brussels and strasbourg are mired in bureaucracy, creating regulations
that slow economic growth. - it must be admitted that the system has become unwieldy and increasingly undemocratic, or at least this how europeans, normal ordinary europeans perceive it, and i think this has created the alienation. - i think there's more concern just about the fact that they are removed from any kind of democratic political control that nation states don't think that they can control these bureaucrats and that they do silly things like try to regulate little things like, you know, the shape of bananas or things like that. - the skepticism or the frustrations that have emerged in these recent years is because in the end people are not doing so well in many parts of europe. and they're starting to question does european integration help me anymore? is is protecting me against cheap chinese imports? is it keeping unemployment levels low?
no, in many cases on both those answers. - [narrator] for the eu to be viable analysts say, leaders must agree to a transfer of sovereignty letting the eu take over certain government roles. many are reluctant. - the european union has been an extremely important and fruitful way for the countries of europe to live in peace and engage in very mutually beneficial trade with each other. but right now europe is is governance crisis. - part of the answer to the future of europe is to deepen european integration principally around monetary policy and fiscal policy. the problem with this is that you really start to get into national sovereignty when you much around with national budgets. - even in our own countries we have the struggle
between the capitol and a different district's regions, local towns, i mean this is something that this normal and political life is european union we're talking about a new project in 60 years what have happened is a miracle. it needs a whole generation to change in order to well out. - how much sovereignty are you willing to give up to join agreement and europe, particularly the eurozone, which britain was not in goes pretty far in affecting your own freedom of action. the whole argument is to parent you have to give up more than your exchange rate. - the united states actually went through this in our founding because after the american revolution we had the articles of confederation. we had 13 independent states and during the 1780s nothing
could get done, and so finally there was a constitutional convention and we got the governance right. - [narrator] some british leaders argue the eu is overbearing and believe britain will be stronger when they exit the european union entirely. - the case for leaving the eu has many parents, and the vote for britain to leave the eu was answering very different questions and different ways for different people. there is no one argument. for many in the conservative party and some of those in business, the reason for leaving the eu is that britain has been hamstrung by super national government in brussels. the regulations hamper the competitiveness of british companies, they're in particular tried to negotiate trade deals at a time when you've got growing, emerging, markets.
- we've seen economic issues, we've seen some of the same problems of wage stagnation and loss of middle income jobs in the uk that we've seen in the us and a lot of other countries. it's very easy to blame that on europe or blame that on immigrants coming in. - well, it was a big surprise, there were others who were more concerned about rules which came from brussels so it was an effort to assert a national sovereignty and it was a feeling that the benefits from europe were insufficient to compensate for the constraints on national sovereignty. - britain has gained enormously from trade with the eu partners as a result of a single market. i don't know any economies who would contest that. if you start cutting britain off the single market then it's going to hit trade and it's going to hit manufacturing
which has already been devastated and then gradually overtime you will see the banking sector and the financial intermediaries shifting elsewhere at the margins. it wouldn't be in a rush, it'll be gradually. - everybody should be concerned about brexit starting with the britains and one of the many ironies, it's a tragic irony is neither the brexit movement nor the cameron government wanted or expected brexit to go through. so britain is in a whole new place and it's not at all clear what that place is going to evolve into. - [narrator] with britain now negotiating its exit from the union, observers say the uk may have isolated itself. - taking the second strongest european union country out of the european union, the united kingdom, that's a recipe for instability in europe itself and that therefore that has
to be a cause of concern for the united states. it's the only european country that has a consistently global outlook. it's the strongest military inside the european union itself and so on many different issues the british voice was very important in brussels, voting on european union matters. - the united kingdom threatens to break apart. it is very far from clear that scotland will stay a member of the united kingdom if that means leaving the european union. even northern ireland is expressing concern. - the people in northern ireland or even the republic of ireland decide to reopen the irish question of a century ago and that is should be have a united ireland on the island? then you might see the gradual fracturing, dismemberment, and undeniably weakening of the united kingdom itself. - one of the bridges to come with the european union was london.
- for many in the united states, american enterprises, now they will have to stay at a different place, either frankfort, milano, madrid, or whatever. - [narrator] the history of the special relationship between the us and uk runs deep. the eu is america's largest trading partner. the eu and the us economies account together for about half the entire world gdp and for nearly a third of world trade flows. - europe is fundamentally important in the united states. europe is our largest trade partner. europe is the largest investor into the american economy and europe is the home of our strongest and largest alliance the nato alliance, we have 26 european allies. so europe is vital to the united states. - i think the us/ british relationship will remain special but not as special as it was because britain will be able
to help less than it did in the past. britain will be weakened by this geo-politically. britain will be out of discussions that involve the eu. - [narrator] the united states and other powers have increased incentives to negotiate trade agreements with the eu as a single block rather than 28 separate governments. the trans- atlantic trade and investment partnership ttip uses this approach. - the aim of the ttip, like the tpp was to achieve much deeper integration between the us and the european economies. the ttip is also a controversial is parts of europe, especially germany. europeans believe that their standards are more appropriate and indeed superior to those in the united states. they're more concerned about privacy. they're more concerned about gmos in their food
or hormones in their beef. - the main reason we wanted to have ttip, both europe and the us was because we saw a world of these growing non-liberal economies and powers like china or russia, others, and didn't necessarily wanna have the kind of liberal open economic order that have created and we in the europeans felt that if we don't do this, the rules will be set by china. - there are all these fake and false accusations that it will take jobs out. on the contrary, we're not doing this to take jobs out of people. we are no so stupid. we are doing this because we believe that these kind of treaties will help to create jobs. - [narrator] free trade between eu member states has helped raise living standards for the eu's 500 million people. with just seven percent of the world's population, the eu has created nearly a quarter of global gdp. - as an economic block with out a doubt,
it has been a force for good in the sense that it's increased trade, it's increased economic growth potentially and so on. - it's been without 45 million inhabitants. that's a good market, but is better 500 million which is a whole european union. - the eu enlargement has coincided with the transformation of the economies and the politics and also obviously then to societies of several countries. - to join the european union actually requires meeting fairly stringent human rights standards. they're called the copenhagen criteria and the essentially reinforce various international human rights law standards. and this has been a very important tool for bringing up to speed on the number the governments of eastern europe that over time did develop human rights and democratic standards and were eligible to join the european union. (dramatic music)
- [narrator] eu members states share a security and defense policy. the member states work together to address issues ranging from terrorism to humanitarian concerns like the migrant crisis. - it's a very difficult project, nations that were fighting each other for centuries are now together in a common project. this is not built in one day. it takes time, it takes challenges like the ones we are facing right now, and unfortunately these challenges demonstrate to our citizens and to ourselves that united we have one opportunity, separated we have nothing to do. - despite of all the different geographic, cultural economic interest between a country like say italy and one like germany or poland, theye held together on sanctions, so i do think that the europeans have done an excellent job of providing some solidarity against russia.
- because what the eu tends to focus on issues of internal concern, whereas nato focuses on issues of external concern, threats, that never really been able to kind of leverage the potentials of collaboration. that may be changing now. we may be at a point now because of the migration crisis because of aggression by russia, because of the increasing hybrid character, of threats confronting these organization's members. there seems to be signs that the institutions are beginning to do more to institutionally collaborate. - we americans and canadians have always thought since the second world war our future depends on europe, and europe's future depends on us, and that's why we created the nato alliance, that's why nato is so important to our future. it's not antiquated as donald trump tried to convince the american people back in 2016, it is not an antiquated alliance. it's a very modern one. it speaks to the problems of our own time. - [narrator] together the us and the eu constitute the largest bilateral
trading relationship in the world. representing nearly half of all global gdp. time will tell if the powers holding the eu together are stronger than those that would tear it apart. (dramatic music) - [man] great decisions is america's largest discussion program on global affairs. discussion groups meet in community centers, libraries, places of worship, and homes across the country to discuss global issues with their community. participants read the eight topic briefing book, meet to discuss each topic and complete a ballot which shares their views with congress. to start or join a discussion group in your community, visit great decisions dot org, or call 1 800 477 5836. great decisions is produced by the foreign policy association in association with thomson reuters.
funding for great decisions is provided by price water house coopers llp. - [narrator] next time on great decisions, international trade has transformed the way we live. the question of how open markets should be to competition can lead to intense political debate and occasionally war. since world war ii the us has been a stanch supporter of free trade, but support is ebbing and calls for protectionism are emerging. international trade, next time on great decisions. (relaxed music)
♪ host: welcome to"in good shape." coming up -- loss of vision -- can a corneal transplant help? neater nails -- tips for fingernail care. and alzheimer's -- what happens in the brain, and can it be treated? and here's your host, dr. found out that one in two germans is afraid of getting alzheimer's disease. and i guess in your country, this is quite the same. which is quite astounding, because i frequently read some news about alzheimer's, like an herbal tea which improves brain function, or some secret formula out of the lab of a pharmaceutical company.