The European Union has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament (in Strasbourg) no one other than its members wants to have power (which must subtract from the powers of national legislatures), a capital (Brussels) of coagulated bureaucracy no one admires or controls, a currency that presupposes what neither does nor should nor soon will exist (a European central government), and rules of fiscal behavior that no member has been penalized for ignoring.
And here's Joel Kotkin on the shaky European model:
You can blame the spendthrift Greeks for this trouble, or even the lack of geeks in Europe (anyone found a continental Google or Apple lately?). But Euro-stagnation is nothing new. It’s deeply rooted and longstanding. Indeed, since 1970 it has not been the U.S. that has faded before the onslaught from the East, but the core 15 nations of the European Union. Over that 40-year period the EU-15’s share of world GDP has plummeted from roughly 37 percent to under 28 percent; the American chunk, roughly 27 percent, has stayed remarkably even. Basically Asia, and particularly China and India’s gain, largely has been at Europe’s expense, not our's.
In stating the case for European superiority, much has been made by boosters of Europe’s different institutional framework, tax or regulatory structure. No question these have advantages and disadvantages compared with those of the United States, but there’s little case for arguing that the “Euro-model” has been a rip-roaring economic success. It’s imploding on its weak periphery, and the collapse is threatening even bigger players, including the United Kingdom.
Gives a new spin to Churchill's description of the Balkans as the "soft underbelly of Europe," doesn't it?