The new Hanseatic League

15 November 2030
Your Attendance at the Euromark Council

 

Dear Chancellor,

It is somewhat ironic that your meeting with the Euromark Council falls almost exactly five years after the European Union first agreed to a bailout package in an effort to stabilise Italy’s then-massive debt. It had long been assumed that Greece would be the first to leave the eurozone, but the fact that Italy, a founding member of the EU, was forced to abandon the euro in the face of the double whammy of its own severe banking crisis and the 2024 2nd Great Recession was a stunning blow to European integration. As other southern European countries also left, the only way we could salvage an economically viable zone of monetary stability in Europe was to create a new euromark zone of predominantly northern European countries.

Scarred by two major recessions in the space of sixteen years, and facing unrelenting migrant pressures, political life in most member states is now principally driven by the health of the nation: national well-­being, national finances, religious and ethnic affirmation. Whereas publics in an earlier era, thinking of themselves as ‘European’, accepted costs, direction, identity, and sacrifice – as well as expected benefits – from EU institutions, publics today accept neither the costs nor the benefits beyond the national level. Europe is back to being more of a geographic concept than a political one.

With such changed expectations, the de facto development of a two-speed Europe – the ten euromark countries in the north, and the remainder in the periphery – was only a natural extension. This new Hanseatic League, as the euromark zone is increasingly called, rests more squarely on the shoulders of Germany than the EU as a whole ever did. The 2028 Copenhagen summit marked the first steps in cleaning up the debris of the euro-zone collapse.But you know more than perhaps any other leader that even the euromark zone remains under long-term economic pressure. The competition from Asia and the Americas continues to be exceptionally tough; however, at least the well-being of the population in this zone has been improving, thanks to the revolutionary breakthroughs northern Europe has achieved in the dawning Bio-Cognitive age. The new companies that have created and promptly captured new global markets in telerobotics, telepresence, molecular nanotechnology, nano-biomanufacturing, telemedicine, and tailored health care services have reinvigorated northern Europe as one of the world’s leading regions of innovation.

Moreover, our determined efforts to reduce our dependencies on imports of natural gas and oil have also helped Germany and its euromark partners move closer to breaking the link between the production of wealth and the consumption of resources. This could portend another revolutionary economic model from which the euromark zone stands to profit the most.

This brings us back to the subject of this weekend’s Euromark Council meeting. The 2028 Copenhagen summit marked the first steps in cleaning up the debris of the eurozone collapse: amending the Lisbon Treaty, eliminating layers of accumulated Brussels bureaucracy, establishing coordination mechanisms between euromark and non-euromark European economies, and restoring national sovereignty over nearly all but pure Single-Market issues. This weekend’s gathering will complete that task. It will codify a less ambitious but more sustainable European order. Gone are the dreams of Europe being a major global actor, of a single Union, an economic powerhouse able to use its strength to leverage soft power in the world. In its place is a diverse Europe with a Single Market, but with significant variance in economic performance, living standards, and external relations. Three years on from our last crisis, this looser Europe appears to be stable and even hopeful. Of course, it is hard to know what the future may hold.

Dr. Daniel S. Hamilton (62) is the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He was formerly the Richard von Weizsäcker Professor at SAIS. He has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and Associate Director of the Policy Planning Staff for two U.S. Secretaries of State. In 2008, he served as the first Robert Bosch Foundation Senior Diplomatic Fellow in the German Foreign Office. He has also taught at the Free University of Berlin, the Hertie School of Governance, and the University of Innsbruck.