Friday, February 8, 2013

Upwards! And downwards! Both at the same time!

Among the things I sometimes think about, the EU is one of them. There seems to be a dual motion going on within the union, with things going in two directions at once.

On the one hand, things are getting ever more centralized. More and more power and legislative authority is being transferred to Brussels, and national governments are finding themselves being able to do less and less with their national authority. Both in big matters - the Euro is the big example here - and in small matters - like, say, the warning labeling on cigarette packages. Both are regulated from the EU, and everything in between.

On the other hand, regions are getting more active than ever. There's a marked increase in regional co-operation, and networks of cities are slowly emerging from past solitudes. No matter which borders might have been there in the past. And those regions who have enough historical clout to proclaim being their own thing, are increasingly proclaiming to being their own thing. With the proposed upcoming vote on Scottish independence being the prime example.

The thing about this dual movement is not that it is contradictory. To the contrary, the one can happen because of the other - as more and more state functions are delegated upwards, the things that are left to do are primarily local. When the big issues are already settled, the particular regions can focus on being particular regions.

Now, this is not an attempt to downplay the very real possibility that the whole thing might come crashing down on the heads of everyone before anyone knows it. But it is interesting to see these things change with perceptible speed - I was alive when the Euro became a thing, which means it wasn't that long ago.

We live in interesting times. As the Ancients said.

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