Policy Issues / Foreign Policy

Two Paths Before Europe: Globalist Socialism or Independent Nationalism

U.S. policy should articulate a diplomacy that rejects the aggression by the European Union against the nationalist governments and national policies of Poland and Hungary.


The European Union (EU) and its assimilation of the continent under one flag is viewed by globalists as a shining example of the “new world order.” The EU structure, like most international bodies and organizations that originated after the Second World War, rejects the concept of independent nation-states free to govern within a nationally defined set of laws and norms. Instead, it promotes a system which scholar Yoram Hazony defines in The Virtue of Nationalism as “an order of peoples united under a single regime of law, promulgated and maintained by a single supranational authority.” 

In 1992, the European Union’s powers and structure were solidified under the Maastricht Treaty, the central tenet of which is “creating an ever closer union.” For decades, bureaucrats in Brussels slowly usurped the authority of national governments in Europe to craft their national policies in key areas such as border security, religious freedom, and energy production. Member states who dare challenge such actions face swift punishment, including loss of access to EU funds, loss of voting rights within the body, and global smear campaigns riddled with woke labels of bigotry, disunity, and destroying democracy. 

Is it fair to characterize dissent by EU member states as “undemocratic?” Take for example Britain’s 2016 referendum to exit the EU altogether. The Brexit movement originated from a deep seeded frustration that laws and regulations crafted by an unaccountable foreign body made goods and services more expensive, spent billions of British pounds abroad, and forcibly shifted culture away from British tradition. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union came as a direct mandate from the British public in the June 2016 referendum with 51.9% supporting leave, a vote that quite literally reflected all the key elements of a fair and open democratic process in action. 

Behind the EU’s globalist buzzwords and calls for the protection of democracy lies a fundamental desire to keep power concentrated in the hands of a small group of “enlightened” elites who possess an unchecked ability to define the interests, values, and policies for the whole of Europe. Any semblance of nationalism, properly understood as the right of an independent nation with sovereign borders to govern free from foreign control, is deemed dictatorial, dangerous, and a threat to the health of democracy. 

Poland and Hungary: The Case for a Return to National Governance in Europe

Poland and Hungary, both nations that remain part of the European Union, present a case study in both challenging the seemingly unbreakable power of international governing bodies like the EU, as well as the benefits to nationalism properly understood. 

Poland and Hungary are now in the early part of a second decade of nationalistic parties holding ruling majorities in both nations. Poland elected the Law and Justice party to a majority in 2015 and maintained power in the 2019 elections. Hungary brought the Fidesz Party led by Viktor Orbán back into power in 2010, and delivered a decisive victory in April 2022 that preserved the Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party coalition’s supermajority. Both parties continue to succeed on platforms that include Euroskepticism (broad distrust in the EU governing structure) as a core pillar. Further, since coming to power in the early 2010s, governments in Hungary and Poland have enacted reforms, such as strict immigration limits and pro-traditional family policies, that directly challenge liberal values sacrosanct to the European Union.

In response to Poland and Hungary’s domestic reforms, the European Union accused both nations of “democratic backsliding” and launched formal investigations into the health of democracy in both countries. In 2020 the European Union doubled down on its criticisms by adopting a measure within its annual budget which established “a regime of conditionality” for allocation of funds, with “respect for the rule of law” as a central component of the conditions. No clear definition is provided in any official EU documentation thus far that articulates standards for respecting the rule of law by member states, meaning any formal accusations by the European Commission remain completely subjective. Poland and Hungary attempted to veto the measure, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the time the measure “jeopardizes trust” between members of the bloc. Poland and Hungary ultimately lifted the veto after striking a compromise that the measure would remain in the budget, however, sanctions attached to the conditionality may not be imposed on a member state until the European Court of Justice examines the legality of the measure and issues a formal ruling. 

The European Court of Justice ruled against Hungary and Poland’s challenge to the rule of law conditionality in February 2022 stating rule of law violations constitute a “risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget or the protection of the financial interests of the Union in a sufficiently direct way.” Following the ECJ’s ruling, the EU could move forward with formal sanctions that would limit both nations’ access to EU funds and voting rights in the near future, the most severe action leveled against a current member state by the body in its history. In response to the decision, Polish deputy minister Janusz Kowalski said, “This is the end of the EU as we know it! We must defend Polish sovereignty.”

The battle between both nations and the European Union is rooted in an ideological struggle between nationalism and globalism. Poland and Hungary’s national policies that reflect the political will and culture of a unique citizenry are considered an assault on the European Union’s vision of a Europe collectively under one economy, one culture, and governed by one set of subjective truths defined by woke bureaucrats. In the eyes of the European Union, no room exists for any semblance of national identity, borders, or legitimate national leadership. 

Unfortunately for the European Union, the movement toward nationalism is only growing stronger. The recent decisive victories for nationalist parties in Poland and Hungary, a Britain that remains Tory-controlled post-Brexit, and a sizeable increase in vote share for Marine Le Pen’s Nationalist Rally party in the recent French elections indicate a future in which stamping out the nationalist movement will be more difficult for the EU and poses an increasing likelihood of eventually fracturing the bloc all together.  

Rightsizing U.S.-EU Relations – Limiting the Influence of Brussels

The European Union’s hostility toward national governance is not contained to the European continent. The United States has, for too long, maintained a deeply entangled relationship with the EU, resulting in foreign policy aims that put globalist goals above American national interests. Moreover, the EU is consistently granted a presumption of virtuous behavior by the Washington establishment, without any consequence for the bloc’s authoritarian actions against the sovereignty and self-governance of its members, nor its consistent freeloading off of the American taxpayer for the continent’s security. 

Under the Trump administration, U.S. policy challenged the European Union in two major areas where U.S. interests had fallen victim to Europe’s agenda. First, the U.S. highlighted the failure of EU countries to provide for the continent’s defense and security. The United States carries much of the cost burden for European defense, contributing 3.52% of U.S. GDP to NATO in 2021. The Trump administration’s pressure on European allies to increase contributions to NATO garnered some success with increases seen by NATO Europe and Canada from 2018-2020. Despite the progress made, 2021 contributions combined from Germany (1.49%) and France (1.93%), the two largest economies in Europe, remain lower than total U.S. contributions. European security should be the responsibility of European nations. U.S. lawmakers should propose measures that tie U.S. funding for European security to strict burden sharing commitments.

Second, the EU is considerably less concerned with risks posed by economic and political entanglement with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) than the United States. 18 countries in the European Unionare now part of the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative, China’s global infrastructure program used to grow Chinese influence and economic control in all regions of the globe. Despite a strong campaign by President Trump in 2018 and 2019 to encourage European allies to remove Chinese telecom provider Huawei from planned 5G infrastructure, the bloc remains heavily fragmented on the issue. Sweden, Poland, and Romania have instituted full bans, whereas Germany and Spain plan to move forward with use of Huawei equipment. The EU lacks any semblance of coherence on its approach to China’s global ambitions and often turns a blind eye to the CCP’s malign activities, including espionage risks posed by using Chinese telecom infrastructure and China’s blatant lies to the international community on the origins and containment of COVID-19. To this end, the EU does not make a reliable partner in the great power competition with China that will define at least the next decade of American geopolitical interests.

The agenda of Brussels also complicates U.S. trade relations in Europe. The collective nature of the alliance means trade policy is driven by the interests of the largest economic players, primarily Germany and France, and those interests also include policy positions on areas such as labor laws, data regulation, and environmental standards. A U.S.-EU trade relationship, as opposed to a bilateral approach, forces the U.S. to swallow certain trade terms for overall access to the bloc as a whole and effectively means the EU holds the upper hand in negotiation when U.S. policies are in direct conflict with the EU position. For example, the EU has long rejected the importation of U.S. LNG citing strict EU environmental standards.

The European Union did not take kindly to an emboldened United States, under President Trump, willing to prioritize American interests first. EU leaders celebrated the election of Joe Biden with statements about working together again, breaking down walls, promoting democracy, and America being “back” on the world stage. That reaction is a grotesque celebration of a weakened America, and a renewed ability for Brussels to exploit U.S. resources for Europe’s ends.

Concluding Assessment 

It is critical that the rejection of European Union rule in favor of national governance is viewed in the proper context. The desire for European nations like Poland and Hungary to independently govern separate from the whims and wills of Brussels should not be characterized as totalitarian, fascist, or undemocratic by U.S. policymakers. 

Nationalist parties in both nations legitimately won the support of the people via elections. Both nations challenged the EU’s authority through the defined mechanisms and protocols of the bloc. Both nations, like the U.K., have the sovereign right to consider leaving the bloc. 

Similarly, U.S. lawmakers and officials have a constitutional duty to ensure U.S. policy and resources are directed toward American interests and not subservient to the agenda set by Brussels. 

U.S. policy that reflects American interests should include a willingness to deconstruct the long-standing presumption of infallibility granted to the European Union simply by virtue of its “unified” structure. It should also articulate a diplomacy that rejects the aggression by the European Union against the nationalist governments and national policies of Poland and Hungary.