European integration started for an important part as a reaction to the second World War, because there was nu unity, there became war. This was a political reason, where the building blocks were economic. After long years of peace and prosperity in western Europe, together with the collapse of the Soviet threat, make further European integration seem much less urgent.
The very depth of the political integration achieved so far has caused something of a backlash as the EU has gained new powers that threaten deeply rooted national traditions (fields such as frontier controls and fiscal policy). Also expansion led to an increased political diversity that can often seem harmfull for a national identity. The speed of expansion strenghtens this feeling.
European integration (compared to the USA) is limited by the lack of a common language, common history (leading to national identity) and the fact that Europeans citizens are homebodies (only 1,6% lives outside their home country to work or study). Immigration and often Moslim immigration also harm the feeling of national identity.
People expect prosperity and jobs from Europe. The current economic downturn and need for economic reform work against European integration. Many economists think the EU has played a crucial role by creating a secure legal environment for business and enabling European companies to reap the economies of scale previously available only in the United States. This lead to to the prosperity that European citizens value so much.
It will be that European citizens, facing difficult economic times and the erosion of their much-loved â€œEuropean social modelâ€, decide to put some of the blame on the Union itself. Too fast liberalisation and globalization are seen now as reasons for unemployment and a possible downturn of economy.
Conclusion: The current trend to stop a European integration, fed by a feeling of losing national identity and losing prosperity could actually strengthen the downwards trend of prosperity as it is especially businesses that benefit from the economies of scale and unified legislation that an integrated Europe can offer.
Most important driving forces:
- Social security (Unemployment): higher unemployment leads to less European integration on the short terms, on the longer term people might understand that a combined Europe is stronger that 1 country. Employment follows GDP growth, this is uncertain, though on the longer term demographics determine a lower unemployment rate.
- Social security (pension & health payment) (19): lowered payments leads to less European integration on the short terms, on the longer term people might understand that a combined Europe is stronger that 1 country. Expectations for pension & health payments are that they will be lowered as demographics determine that the current amounts are not sustainable.
- National identity (20): a higher national identity feeling lowers the need for European integration. But, on the longer term people might understand that a combined Europe is stronger that 1 country. Expectations are very uncertain
- European legislation
- slowdown of GDP growth leads to less European integration on the short terms. On the long term Europe might recognize the value of unification
- threat of terrorism slows down the European integration
- the outspoken 'no' to a European constitution from France and the Netherlands slows down the integration
- higher unemployment rates might lead to a dominant focus on employment of the "own people". On the long term Europe might recognize the value of a European focused economy
- social security lowers the incentives for unemployed to find a new job. This decreases the