EU’s Cognitive Dissonance


There are rumours that EU is suffering from what psychologists call cognitive dissonance.

Definition: Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, put it best in 2007: “We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.”

As The economist puts it: “Will the European Union make it? The question would have sounded outlandish not long ago. Now even the project’s greatest cheerleaders talk of a continent facing a “Bermuda triangle” of debt, demographic decline and lower growth.”

A rival perception (between Germany and France) suggests that they are more like a couple on the verge of divorce: they agree on little, and trust each other even less. Consider the row over economic government. The French want to concoct a euro-zone block, with a direct line to the European Central Bank and fiscal harmonisation. The Germans reject this. They insist on a wider grouping, backed by strict budgetary discipline, and harsh sanctions for bad behaviour. The Economist

With unemployment the worst of the post-World War II era, there has never been a better pretext for reform they argue in Europe.

In Asia and America it has become fashionable to look upon these failings with disdain. Europe’s time is past, it is said. Its ageing, inward-looking citizens no longer have the resolve to overcome adversity. The Economist

I was very much amused with the readers’ comments in the end of The Economist article. One for instance: “If nations were individuals, Europe would be that senior citizen. I personally think they have gotten too lazy and the socialized services have added to the problem.” and another “Politically, Europeans look like the post-WWI isolationists who think they are too innocent to leave their lovely home and do anything for the ugly outside world.” They go further and argue that one the most important functions the EU plays is ensuring that Europe stays democratic. What they have on mind, among other issues, is that except for Britain, France and a few Scandinvian countries, most European countries have only a few decades of experience with democratic governance. The memory of dictatorships are fresh. “who knows what will happen if there is a serious depression in these countries, will their new democracies be able to stand a trial of fire?” – the readers ask. And yes, will the EU be capable to get rid of its cognitive dissonance and take a united lead? well, I am not that EUphile, so you can understand my not really optimsitic attitudes, however The Economist says:

Yes: the European Union will thrive if its leaders seize the moment in the same way they did 20 years ago.

Last but not least, there is another point I would like to make concerning EU’s confusion. Far from shifting Ukraine further towards Russia, the election of Viktor Yanukovych could provide the EU with the opportunity to reengage with the keystone to Europe’s Eastern neighbourhood, according to a new policy paper by European Council on Foreign Relations Ukraine expert Andrew Wilson. and an interesting quotation:

When the EU encourages states like Belarus and Amenia to reform, it is in effect asking them to be ‘more like Ukraine’. If that request makes leaders in Minsk or Yerevan recoil or laugh out loud, then Ukraine really will have failed – and Europe with it.

True Dr. Andrew Wilson, true…

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