August 20th, 2009 21:06 EST
Europe Cannot be United
As serious measures, for the member states to join The European Union, a series of pre-conditions were set. The inflation rates should be within a certain margin, unemployment figures should be within limit, interest rates should match; economic growth rates should be acceptable etc. But, these were not found as desired for several states and adjustments were made one way or the other to permit these states with shaky figures to join the Union.
This is on the economic side. Politically, the EU Parliament prefers to centralize the decision-making power in itself and takes away from the member states their individual rights to govern themselves on many important aspects like defense, education, agriculture, industry etc. which may work for the advantage of the bigger states with bigger representation in the European Parliament, but not to the advantage of the smaller states with a small representation.
Before applying for entry into the EU, in some countries, referendum was made, but in others only the national parliaments decided and the citizens were not asked. Sense of democracy differs within Europe.
Europe cannot be united. Languages of the states are different; the list of interpreters and translators in its institutions are dazzling: Maltese to Finnish; Swedish to Portuguese; Greek to Spanish; Italian to English or German; Irish to French; Dutch to Danish are but some we see on the list. Translation problem causes great difficulties in the institutions of the EU.
Prices and wages vary greatly in the EU although the currency is the same. This causes a turbulence of manpower and goods, shifting from one country to the other. Also in some European countries women and men get the same salary and wages for the same job, whereas in some (example Sweden) women get lower salaries and wages than men, for the same job.
But, in the case of joint ownership of an apartment or a house between the spouses, the law protects the woman in Sweden (especially if there is a child) and the right to dwell in the apartment or the house is given to the woman. (Even in cases when the man is the sole owner)
This is only the start. On the social scene, serious differences tear Europe apart, rather than tend to unite it:
Women who are accustomed to sunbathing in topless bikinis or nude in the Nordic countries can only dream of doing this in the beaches of some southern countries. This would be a major conflict in candidate states like Turkey, where even kissing in the public gets harsh reactions from the law enforcement, as well as from the ignorant sector of the society. Situation is mildly better in the villages of Sicily or Greece. Young people used to kissing freely in other states of Europe would be disturbed by this cultural limitations and prohibitions in some states.
Cultural traits differ greatly in all parts of Europe: In Sweden, sitting at the same table in a restaurant wagon, in a train, does not automatically give one the right to talk to his neighbours at the table, whilst not talking to his neighbours at the same table is considered impolite, in Spain. In some countries, in public restaurants, people sit mixed, whereas in other countries, this is not acceptable.
Spitting on the streets is punished by law in some European states, while it is a national habit in the North, where many chew tobacco or place it under their lips.
Pissoirs, which are so common in France, is hardly to be found in other countries, as an example in Sweden. Those who must take diuretic medicine and need to go to the toilet often, have a hard time finding a toilet, which costs a dollar to use (sometimes more), if one finds one.
Age differences are of marked importance in different states in Europe. In Berlin Technical University one can find many old students of ages between 50 and 60, whereas in Sweden it is hard to find a university student over the age of 25 or 30 max.
On the legal front, in many countries, as one reports a crime to the police, his identity is kept confidential. In Sweden, as an example, if one reports a crime to the police, his identity, name, phone, address, social security number are also given to the criminal. This makes it very difficult for many, to report a criminal incident to the police.
Also requirements for obtaining citizenship differ greatly in the European countries.
Tolerance to people of other cultures and nationalities also vary greatly in the EU countries.
A joke is going on in Europe: People say, Germans cannot make a war again, so EU was their way of controlling Europe. Whether this is true or not, Germans did not like to abandon their DM and accept the use of Euro.
Just before the Euro came into use, the printing plates for Euro were stolen in the Paris airport and found two months prior to the appearance of the Euro. Following that, many counterfeit Euro banknotes were found all over Europe.
On the health front, in some European states, practising of alternative medicine, by the doctors is allowed, but not in some states.
With such wide differences in their cultures, legislatures, climate, economies, languages, it is impossible to think of uniting European countries. It is even a pity, as Europe is beautiful as it is, with its differences.
Askin Ozcan is the author of six books: The Second Venice, Wisdom In Smile, Small Miracles, Stockholm Stories, The Mini-Submarine, Lightning And A Bouquet Of Roses.
He also writes regularly for thesop.org, newsblaze.com, theseoultimes.com
His books are available on 200 internet bookshops incl. www.amazon.com and via 25.000 bookstores by giving their ISBN.