With the news that Greece has postponed its elections until April, 2012 looks increasingly like the year in which the legitimacy of the grand European project will be tested to destruction. Predicting the future is a mug’s game, but I thought it might be a fun little end-of-year project to put together some not-entirely-serious suggestions for what might happen in Europe over the next year.
January: General happiness and optimism reign over the continent, with the Big Bazooka of the new EU fiscal compact supposedly having solved all Europe’s problems forever. EU officials organize a “Two Minute Hate” directed at British Prime Minister David Cameron, to be introduced in all EU schools just after morning assembly. Cameron tells the British people he will remain firm and resolute. Five EU banks collapse, but this is dismissed as a sign that the fiscal compact is working. President Barack Obama urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
February: The EU parliament votes that euroskeptic British members can only speak if they wear a silly hat and begin their speech “I am a poor deluded fool and I think…” Daniel Hannan, Nigel Farage and others proudly adopt the silly hat as their symbol and begin every speech with a quote from EU President van Rompuy. Ten more banks collapse. Portugal, Ireland, and Spain are in imminent danger of turning into Greece. This is dismissed as a sign that the fiscal compact is working. President Barack Obama urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
March: The EU leaders suddenly realize that their big bazooka was firing blanks. “We need a Gross Panzerfaust!” declares Chancellor Merkel of Germany, making this the title of a new draft EU Treaty. President Sarkozy is too busy checking his latest poll figures on his blackberry to notice and signs off on the plan without reading it. Faced with exaggerated tut-tutting and snide comments in languages he doesn’t understand, David Cameron decides that if Britain is to remain in the EU he had better sign the treaty. On hearing the news, London mayor Boris Johnson announces cryptically to the press, “Oh no, that won’t do. That won’t do at all. No no no no no no…” and wanders off. Cameron’s poll numbers plummet. President Barack Obama urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
April: The technocratic Greek government puts off elections until May. The EU approves wholeheartedly. In France, the first ballot for the presidency results in a run-off between socialist François Hollande and neo-fascist Marine Le Pen. President Sarkozy’s desperate last-minute campaign strategy of posing nude for Paris Match with his wife Carla Bruni gains male votes but loses as many female ones. In Britain, Parliament falls silent when Boris Johnson wanders into the House of Commons in the middle of a floor debate and sits on the Conservative front bench. No one has the courage to ask him why he’s there. Two days later, David Cameron announces that the Mayor of London is now a member of his cabinet. President Barack Obama urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
May: The Greek government, facing daily pro-democracy riots in the streets, puts off the elections again, and invites the Turkish army in to maintain order when the Greek armed forces refuse. The Greeks rise in revolt and install a communist government which promptly begins expropriating all private property in order to meet the pay and pensions of rioting public servants. The EU says that communism is perfectly compatible with its charter and Greece remains part of the euro. In France, the French public gives a collective Gallic shrug of its shoulders and elects Marine Le Pen its first female president, rationalizing that it had tried male socialists before, but never a female fascist. President Barack Obama congratulates the people of France on voting for a woman, urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
June: The Greek army intervenes to overthrow the Communist government, and installs a government consisting of the few remaining free-market liberals in the country. The EU declares this incompatible with membership and expels Greece from the EU and the euro. Greece finally defaults, reintroduces the drachma and becomes competitive again. Within a few months, Greek living standards start to rise. President Barack Obama condemns the Greek colonels, urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
July: The Gross Panzerfaust Treaty is defeated in referenda in Ireland, France and Denmark. German Chancellor Merkel refuses to accept the results and demands the EU implement the treaty anyway. With a Czech referendum imminent, she masses troops along the border. In the UK, illness prevents David Cameron from answering Prime Minister’s Questions. Boris Johnson casually wanders up to the dispatch box and starts answering them in his stead, pushing Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to one side. He promises a British referendum on the Gross Panzerfaust Treaty and also announces a new defense contract for a New Spitfire. President Barack Obama urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro, before suddenly realizing there’s an election on and his poll numbers are in the commode.
August: The Italian government announces that it will henceforth be a constitutional monarchy and crowns Prime Minister Mario Monti king. Having accidentally reintroduced separation of powers in an effort to avoid the democracy problems of Greece, Italy suddenly finds itself the best-run country in Europe. King Mario, now having to negotiate with Parliament on tax levels and spending, introduces real fiscal discipline and reduces public spending to 20 percent of GDP. Supply-side reforms legitimize Italy’s black economy, turning Italy into an economic powerhouse. King Mario tells his people that they have, essentially, left the EU, so they might as well make it official. President Barack Obama makes campaign stops in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and Vaduz, urging the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
September: French President Marine Le Pen has by this time introduced her main economic policies of protectionism, an end to immigration, nationalization of the banks, and agricultural subsidies. She follows up by reintroducing the franc, leaving the EU, and rebuilding the Maginot line, this time including along the borders with Luxembourg and Belgium. In Britain, the referendum to leave the EU passes with 75 percent in favor. Victorious “Out!” campaign leader Nigel Farage manages a 100 percent popularity rating, but his UK Independence Party is still without a seat in Parliament. Leader of the “It Would Be Rather Nice to Stay In, Dontcha Know?” campaign, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, fails to register any public approval at all. He also notices that Boris Johnson has taken over his office and is getting his Diary Secretary to schedule his engagements. With President Obama campaigning in Hawaii, Illinois, and Massachusetts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
October: Chancellor Merkel flies to Moscow for a “secret” meeting with Vladimir Putin. Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski’s gulp can be heard in London. The French economy collapses. French farmers block all ports, blaming Britain. Britain starts getting all its agricultural imports from New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries once more. British food prices fall drastically. The Cameron/Johnson government enjoys a substantial boost in the polls. Overnight, Portugal and Ireland leave the euro and enter a currency union with the British pound, while reintroducing their own currencies in free competition. With Secretary of State Clinton helping the president campaign, Vice President Biden urges the EU nations to work out their differences and stick to the euro.
November: Spain, Finland, Slovakia, Estonia, and the Netherlands leave the euro. As Chancellor Merkel orders a national mobilization, she notes that she always said this would happen if the euro collapsed, and blames Britain. Austria and Luxembourg attempt to leave the euro, but find they aren’t allowed, and that their currency all has the word “Euro” crossed out and “Mark” written in with a sharpie. The continent stops collapsing briefly so that everyone can see Ron Paul win the 2012 U.S. Presidential race. There is a brief moment of pan-European unity as everyone realizes they can now blame a free-market American for their troubles instead. President Paul says the EU got itself into this mess and can get itself out.
December: Europe briefly ceases to be a continent and becomes instead a giant game of Risk. British Prime Minister David Cameron comes back from a party at BP headquarters (theme — “Global warming — it’s our fault!”) to find all his possessions on the street outside No. 10 Downing Street. New Prime Minister Boris Johnson flies to Washington to congratulate President-elect Paul on his victory and join the North Atlantic Free Trade Area. American troops in Germany point out that they have better weapons than the rest of Europe combined and peace breaks out all over Europe. European leaders, sans Johnson, meeting in Brussels, decide that they should put aside their differences and found something called the European Union…