2018: Re-launch or Further Disintegration of the European Project
Saying that Europe is back, as French president Emmanuel Macron declared recently, seems to be slightly over-optimistic. Will Angela Merkel, damaged by vote loss in the election and her failure to put a coalition with the Greens and Liberals together, be able and willing to support Macron in his attempts to re-launch the European project? Will other Member States join in these efforts? Not too many contenders seem to be on the horizon. In Central Eastern Europe right-wing populism and nationalism have taken over and in some countries the rule of law is under pressure. In the South, Italy seems to be heading for post-election chaos and the Spanish state is rattled by Catalonia’s independence efforts. Greece is still wrestling with economic and social problems and its disproportionate share of the burden of the migration crisis. The North is quiet and seemingly unattached as always, but even there populism is gnawing away at the fundaments of democracy. The founder nations of what has become the EU are struggling to keep on track, which in the case of Italy is likely to end in derailment. All this makes the EU’s prospects for 2018 uncertain. The post-Brexit Union keeps disintegrating, politically and economically, but also in terms of shared values. Fundamental reforms are needed in order to save the legitimacy and integrity of the Union. But who will push for them? Europe needs leaders with a vision and the courage to interrupt the national and institutional navel-gazing which has been going on for too long and led to the impasse we’re stuck in since many years.
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