Even though these words were said in 1858 regarding the deepening division between North and the South, Abraham Lincoln’s timeless words hold true for a great many set of circumstances and situations. And if you stop to think about what I’m alluding to in saying that, it really is true that nothing cuts as deeply as division from within.
In applying his words to the present state of the European Union, it is important to look back to the end of WWII. With the United States becoming the new global powerhouse coming fresh off its victories in WWII, European leaders wanted to make sure that their countries would remain strong and relevant in the global economy. From just after the end of WWII up till recent years, a large number of treaties, agreements, and trade deals have been made between its members, some with much wrangling and negotiation involved, at times it has been at a pace of two steps taken forward and one step backward. And it is easy to see why the work to this point has been difficult at times, some of the nations have wanted full economic and political integration and they have been countered by nations and leaders that have not wanted to give up their status in the world as sovereign nations to a board of politicians and bureaucrats in a different country.
And through all of this over the years, these various agreements and landmark treaties; (the treaty of Paris, the treaty of Rome, Single European Act (SEA), and the Maastricht Treaty) have all been created with the focal points of unity, fair trade, and equality at their core. They have worked as the drivers that have caused the European Union to ultimately work together to have one collective voice that represented Europe in the global economy. The creation of a single currency, the euro, represents a cap that signifies the unity of all of these countries.
This brings us to now, and quite frankly, there is an ever-growing divide between the strong countries (led by France, Germany) in the EU and the ones that are requiring assistance (like Greece, , Portugal, Spain, and Ireland). This division cuts to the core of what these countries have worked so hard to forge together, and I liken it to a situation where it is easy to smile when times are good, but when it’s raining and things look dark and murky, that is when your true character comes out.
It has all culminated to now when some are in their proverbial hour of need. Consequently the solidarity and unity of the EU are going through their toughest test, and quite frankly if they are to not able come together and back these fellow EU nations when they need it financially, the euro and the EU that created it will fall. So it’s a gut check time for all of Europe, and the global economy and stock markets are looking to see if it really is as unified as it said it was going into the creation of the single currency and moreover, the European Union as a whole, because a house divided against itself cannot stand.