Even an expert must be mystified by the legal structures of the European Union Parliament and the European Commission. The EU Parliament has roughly 620 deputies, elected every five years from 15 Western European states. Voters from ElU countries have no decision over the election of other countries’ deputies to the EU Parliament. The president of the EU Parliament is elected every six months—enough to jumpstart his rapid wheelchair on the way in and out. His short-term tenure is reminiscent of the perpetually mismanaged rotational presidency of the former Yugoslavia.

The real power broker in the EU is the European Commission, which is composed of 20 members, one to two persons from each member country. A commissioner, during his tenure, cannot be called to account by any single European country. Twenty commissioners thus have a decent margin of error. Nor are they “German,” “Dutch,” or “Italian” commissioners; they are, legally speaking, only European officials whose European allegiances must transcend their own birthplace. Although the EU is no state at all, it has, nonetheless, strong influence on all the states of Europe, and particularly on newly born states in postcommunist Eastern Europe. E U officials can lecture them freely on human rights or the free market and pontificate endlessly about the virtues of the Maastricht monetary convergence. The 20-member Commission, in addition, can make political “suggestions” to the EU Parliament and to the European Council.

The essential issue for all European nation-states is whether their national executive and legislative bodies will make sense in the forthcoming borderless and tariff-free Europe. Why should small countries, such as Estonia or Slovenia, which opted out of the defunct Soviet Union and Yugoslavia respectively, continue to cherish their sovereignty—only to anticipate a promiscuous Euroslav marriage? Whom should a Portuguese farmer or an Irish fisherman trust more: his government and his parliament, or an anonymous parliament with anonymous politicians from Brussels? In his recent dystopian novel, Euroslavia, Terry Palmer sees the future balkanization of Maastricht Europe . . . urbi et orbi.

From Charlemagne and Napoleon through Hitler and Stalin —Europeans have yearned for a united Europe. Yet the true history of Europe, until now, has always been that of wars. What makes us believe that the Maastricht mystique will bring forth affection?

A common currency can hardly bring different peoples together. The existence of the dollar did not prevent the American North from going to war with the American South in 1861; the existence of the ruble did not prevent the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rubble in Chechnya; the existence of the dinar did not prevent the bust-up of Yugoslavia. To say, therefore, that monetary union is a question of “war or peace” is absurd. Historically, peace reigns where separate, sovereign countries are allowed their own currency and local government.

Moreover, what is the point of having a local national assembly if all political decision-making will be made behind closed doors here in Brussels? What is the point of taking pride in the newly established currencies of Eastern Europe if several years down the road everyone will be obliged to trade with the euro? The richest and freest country in the world, Switzerland, has never been a member of the United Nations or the EU. That’s why everybody likes to stash money there.

Nor is big beautiful. The most dynamic countries in the world today are small city-states: Singapore, Hong Kong, and Luxembourg. Tiny Denmark is the cleanest, richest, and safest state in Europe. Therefore, it still has some second thoughts about sanctioning the introduction of the euro. In hindsight it is also worth recalling what Uncle Joe Stalin once said: “The Pope has no military divisions to fight against victorious communism!” Yet the powerful papal mini-state, called the Vatican, indirectly slayed the dinosaur state called the Soviet Union.

True, the EU may be the last best chance for all Europeans. But the odds are that the European Union may turn into a huge centralized mega-state in which all political decision-making will stem from one center. Furthermore, the introduction of the euro may lead to a new division of Europe: first within the European Union itself, and secondly between the European Union countries and other non-member states. German scholar Thomas Ramb has argued that any enlargement of the European Union eastward might also cost European taxpayers an additional $80 billion annually and trigger a further enlargement of the already huge euro-bureaucracy. The welfare gap between EU-member states and non-member states will likely even lead to massive waves of immigration and cause greater social, racial, and religious tensions. The peoples of Eastern Europe, who have suffered under communism, will find themselves divided by another wall: the Euro-wall. Moreover, each democracy presupposes the existence of a people with its own national mythology. But there is no such thing as “the European people.”

The founding myths of the Maastricht mystique stem from recent European history. In 1957, the Rome Agreement was signed between the major states of Western Europe in the hope of greater cooperation and economic integration. This document was a natural fall-out of World War II. In order to please liberal and communist Gauleiter from the two opposing yet victorious non-European systems, the ravaged postwar protectorate called Europe had to prove that it was more papal than the Pope (i.e., more united than America and the Soviet Union combined). The objective of the 1992 Maastricht treaty, then, was to finalize the integration of Europe. The irony is that just about this same time the mega-states of Europe—the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia—were breaking up.

The naive idea behind the Maastricht mystique is that Europeans should never go to war again and that their common destiny must be ruled by common economic means. Yet France and England exercised their democratic prerogative to hold referenda on the plethora of Maastricht provisions. Germans were not offered this opportunity, and so the new monetary utopia and the borderless Schengen agreement were delivered not through the popular will of the German people but by unwritten Brussels ukases.

Maastricht Europe, i.e., the Europe of 15 states, has 18.5 million unemployed, 15 percent of its active population. The purchasing power of its middle class is 20 percent less than 20 vears ago. The terms “working poor” and “fuel poor” have become part of the political vernacular. How are strong currencies (notably the deutschemark) or other pegged-up currencies (such as the neighboring Danish crown or the Dutch guilder) going to fuse with the weaker currencies — the sluggish hasta-la-vista Spanish peseta or the Italian dolce-vita lira, which have had an average inflation rate of 12 percent over the last ten years? Moreover, many Germans privately worry that a borderless Europe would open up the gates to millions of real and fake refugees —not just from Kurdistan, but also from distant Bananistan. There are already many doubts about the efficiency of the anonymous Euro-Parliament in Strasbourg, the Euro-Supreme Court, and the unknown movers and shakers from Brussels, whose 20 commissioners are frequentiy compared to 20 commissars. Naturally, those who have benefited most from Maastricht so far are small second-gear countries, such as Portugal and Greece; they know that the burly German will foot the tab. But for how long?

The same servile mindset prevails within the new political class in Eastern Europe whose main Maastricht cheerleaders are recycled communist apparatchiks. Because of their inferiority complex—which is to a large extent due to their own violent and murky past—they like crawling on all fours in front of EU architects. They think that crawling and mouthing will speed up their entrance into the rich man’s club, but they are wrong. The small nation-states of Eastern Europe just rid themselves of the communist Medusa. The Maastricht equivalent of the latter is the last thing they need. Tomislav Sunk is the cultural counselor at the Croatian Embassy in Brussels.