14 Oct 2017

Retreat -- Princely advice for the EU

Prince Michael of Liechtenstein’s family created a country that enjoys all the advantages of integrated Europe without any of the constraints of being part of the Union. So why is he advising everyone else to preserve the EU?

Editorial Team
Editorial Team NewsMavens, Europe
Source: Geopolitical Intelligence Services
Retreat -- Princely advice for the EU - NewsMavens
Nasa satelite image of Lichtenstein

Why this story matters:

There’s a lot of interesting ideas and expert advice floating around about what the EU should do to avoid catastrophe -- how to handle Hungary and Poland, how to approach Brexit negotiations and what to do about the refugee crisis.

A subtle but extremely astute voice within the advice choir belongs to Prince Michael of Liechtenstein - 39th in the all-male line of succession to the throne of Europe’s fourth smallest country, an economist, and an expert at the Geopolitical Intelligence Services of which he is also the founder. As he observes the world from the macro perspective of geography, politics and wealth management, his best advise for the EU seems to be -- go back!

In his recent op-ed Prince Michael advises the EU to quit trying to be a country and go back to being an economic union. This was its original purpose and something it did spectacularly well. He points out that there are plenty of other institutions specialized in doing what the ambitious bureaucracy of Brussels has taken on since then. Europe’s defense issues should be left to NATO, human rights and democracy to Strasburg’s council, and external Schengen-area border control to Frontex -- an agency created to do this.

Why endanger the economic, peace-bringing foundations of the Union by elbowing into areas outside its core competence? Stick to what works -- is his advice.

As you read Prince Michael’s eurodite argument (summary and link below), you’ll do well to note Lichtenstein’s own politics. This European micro-state is a member of the United Nations, the European Free Trade Association, and the Council of Europe, while not being a member of the European Union at all. And it seems to have paid off beautifully.

According to Wikipedia "Liechtenstein is one of the few countries in the world with more registered companies than citizens; it has developed a prosperous, highly industrialized free-enterprise economy and boasts a financial service sector as well as a living standard that compares favorably with those of the urban areas of Liechtenstein's much larger European neighbors".

In other words, Prince Michael’s family created a country that enjoys all the advantages of an integrated Europe without any of the constraints involved in being part of the Union.

So why is he advising everyone else to preserve the EU? In the interests of peace, which is a prerequisite for economic stability. As long as it's to everyone's economic benefit, European countries are likely to work out their differences over a common conference table rather than in separate war rooms. Keep the money flowing and the guns will stay at bay, he appears to be saying. Not least in the interests of his own country, which makes a large part of its living on servicing this healthy exchange.

Zuzanna Ziomecka

Editor in Chief

QUOTE SUMMARY FROM PRINCE MICHAEL’S OP-ED

  • "The subcontinent, situated at the western tip of Eurasia’s huge landmass, has managed to integrate peacefully after the wars and bloodshed of the early 20th century. This integration was based on common economic interests, a desire for exchange and the huge advantages offered by an internal market."
  • "The problem today is that the institution we call the EU has become conflated -- in perception -- with Europe itself. This political "union" has become overloaded with tasks that go far beyond ensuring the internal market’s smooth functioning."
  • "The EU’s core competence and strength is the single market. This includes financial support of structurally weaker areas, to redress gaps in infrastructure and incentivize new businesses. Such was the original intention of the founders of the European Economic Community."
  • "A much looser union would have an easier time dealing with Brexit and could conduct negotiations in a more pragmatic way. The same could be said for issues such as Catalonian independence, which would remain an Iberian problem and would not be complicated by the EU’s internal politics."
  • "The United States fought a cruel Civil War to become a nation. Europe does not need to be one."
Source: Geopolitical Intelligence Services
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