For Americans, European politics can make entertaining viewing. Europe is a colourful continent rich with cultural and ethnic diversity and a wealth of different languages and ways of life. Of course international politics then are going to be sometimes heated and the idea of a central governing body for so many different countries is going to be one faced with some challenges. Just take a look the UK where they can’t decide whether they want to be involved with the EU or not, or Turkey which was recently refused entry only to grow lukewarm on the whole idea anyway.
But what if Americans weren’t watching Europe from afar, what if we got stuck in there and actually joined the EU? Of course it could never happen seeing as the US isn’t anywhere near Europe quite apart from anything else, but let’s say it did. What would it be like to be a part of all that drama and controversy?
The Good News
Right from the start there would be some great benefits to being a part of the EU. If you wanted to go on holiday for instance then it would be much easier, and you could even move to any country within Europe without needing to apply for a visa. At one point you could have travelled to Europe without a passport, but unfortunately that’s no longer possible. Meanwhile the US would benefit from better trade with European countries and this would be beneficial to the economy at least initially.
The US would also get the option to move over to the Euro as their primary currency. If they opted to go ahead this would then result in the Euro becoming stronger which would again benefit the economy of the US, and it would make travel even easier. Temporarily it would mean you paid inflated prices locally though, as most vendors would be likely to mark their products up during the transition. Even if the US did join the EU though, it would be more likely that it would choose to keep the dollar just as the UK kept their own currency.
But then there would be downsides to all this too, considerable downsides. First of all, that easy migration would be a two way street meaning that you’d see a sudden influx of immigrants – particularly Eastern Europeans – who would be willing to work for lower pay than the average American. This would then put pressure on the American economy as well as taking up a lot of jobs leaving many out of work.
Meanwhile the US would now also have to answer to an outside body on a lot of issues and this wouldn’t always necessarily result in desirable changes. Changes would likely have to be made to the patriot act and it would become much more difficult to question or deport potential suspected terrorists.
Other laws that would come into effect from on-high would affect car manufacturers (American cars would have to downscale their engines), motorbikes (it would become much more difficult to get a motorbike license), trade and business. This of course might result in a referendum on EU membership just as it has in the UK and add another topic for debate between political parties.
The Side Effects
These are the major changes you’d expect if the US ever joined the EU, but you’d likely also see some smaller changes as a result of it all too. There would be greater cultural diversity both in the US and Europe for instance, but by the same token there’d be less cultural identity in each country (you think there are a lot of McDonald’s in Europe now?). This might not be quite as extreme as you could imagine though – an example of these cultural ‘spreading’ is the growing Polish presence in the UK – but largely the changes are still quite subtle.
At the same time this would also likely affect the rest of the world as the power balance would shift strongly in the direction of the EU. Presumably if the US was allowed to join the EU though, then other non-European countries would have to be given permission to as well? The EU at this point would be a hugely more wealthy economy, and so it would be highly desirable for countries like China and India to join too.
In theory if the US was allowed to join the EU then, and if they decided to, you would suddenly see an influx of other countries joining the union until it was made up of every country in the developed world. This would potentially benefit the economy initially, but ultimately the benefits would be too diluted to have much of an impact while having so many different voices in the union would render it mostly useless in making any decisions at all. And that’s why the US will never be part of the EU…