Many are deeply ignorant of how Europe “works”. Left to themselves, European countries go to war. That is the clear lesson of a millennium of having separated Western Francia from the rest of the Imperium Francorum.
Western Francia, composed mostly of Neustria and Aquitaine, became the so called kingdom of “France” in the Thirteenth Century. It was an abuse of language, as said kingdom covered not even half of present day France, and a fraction of the “Francia” of 1000 CE.
A bit more than 12 centuries ago, the Latin speaking core, direct institutional successor state of Rome, defined itself as the “Renovated Roman Empire“. It kept on expanding in the following centuries, back into Rome’s old borders. Great Britain (1066 CE), Spain, Southern Italy all the way to Sicily were reconquered from the savage barbarians who had overrun them.
The apparition of narrow minded nations and intolerant religious factions in the late Middle Ages and so called “Renaissance” brought great mayhem, and vast regression. To prevent this devolution into barbarity, wisdom requires first to re-unify the empire that once was, where it makes sense to do so (clearly, culture ought to be excepted, as its variety enriches minds).
The European Union is actually an evolutionary mechanism to unify the continent, driven by Germany and France. It is a set of construction projects: parliament, executive, justice, currency, etc.
The EU is also governed by the existing democracies, independent nations legislated by their own parliaments.
Thus there are two intertwined systems: national democracies cooperating, entangled with more or less European institutions they more or less control, and increasingly weave together, while reinforcing them, or creating new ones, as the need arises.
For example, France is crumbling under an avalanche of European decrees from the European Commission (EC), applied throughout the EU. Yet, unbeknownst to many, especially in France, a plurality of these decrees is suggested by the government of France!
American progressives ought to relax: democracy is doing fine in Europe. The EU does not have millions of citizens incarcerated, as the USA does. The EU has no debt. The EU does not rule the planet with its Pentagon. The EU does not have a NSA. When European private banks need more money to leverage, they cannot go straight to the central bank and ask for more, as is the practice in the USA.
The incoherent discourses of a few extreme nationalists who dislike each other (and often are already elected European MP) are not a threat for the EU. Even those critters agree that the European Monetary Union has to be greatly improved (and a banking union is on the way). Even Marine Le Pen, an European MP, as her father is, can talk more cogently about the European currency than many an American economist.
The excellent Martin Schultz is the perfectly French speaking, and French like, German president of the European Parliament. He is a socialist (SPD). He is one of five candidates to head the EC. Chancellor Merkel supports the conservative, financier friendly Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxembourg, a native French speaker.
Natürlich, Martin Schultz is supported enthusiastically by the socialist French government.
For American plutocrats, the real threat is that Martin Schultz will become the first head of the European Commission next week to be elected by the European Parliament (instead of selected by the national governments).
That’s what this election is about.