The State of the European Union: Europe at the political crossroads 2016

2017-05-15, by Diego López Garrido (Director), from Fundación Alternativas

Executive Summary:

The EU is facing many challenges, four of which are considered in detail in this report:

1. The refugee crisis. The Mediterranean has become a graveyard for thousands of migrants, and this is resulted from the absence of an effective and common migration policy;

2. The terrorism threat posed by the so-called “Islamic State”. The fight against the Islamic State has suffered from poor intelligence coordination, the absence of a strategy to deal with the wide range of active conflicts, and the lack of a common defense and security policy.

3. Climate change and the Paris Summit. There are a number of problems, including the lack of sanctions for countries that breach the targets, and potential barriers in major polluting countries such as the USA, China and Russia.

4. Brexit. In order to prevent the UK from leaving, concessions are offered that distort the European project, violate its basic principles, or obstruct the necessary progress towards political union.

This report examines the delicate political situation currently faced by the EU, and it examines the reasons why theses values, fundamentally based on the welfare state and the rule of law, have been and continue to be severely affected by the critical situation facing EU in 2016. The issues discussed are as follow:

The most concerning impact of all and the great challenge is inequality: nominal economic growth has been unequally distributed among social classes, regions and states. Since the social policies are the responsibility of member states, the EU can not address the problem,  nor does it have the tax powers that are key to the recovery.

The real crisis in the refugee crisis is not the refugee but EU’s inability to response. When fundamental values such a solidarity and the right to asylum are broken, other principles also suffer, as in the case with the free movement of people.  As for the populist nationalism in EU countries, it can only lead to the political fragmentation of an already damaged European project.

The EU has reached a crossroad, a moment of unprecedented political challenge. And what makes economic crisis or refugee and security crisis critical, is the EU’s failure to provide a credible response. The EU could act as a community of nations which stand side by side to tackle the refugee crisis, and it could -and should -comply with international law, but it does not.

Decisive measures,  coordination, political leadership and strengthening political actions are required to deal with the European crisis. What EU is facing  is a political crisis, whose solution require political action. Also, it is an institutional problem, which creates obstacles to action by the European Parliament and Commission, precisely at a moment when political will should strengthen them.

This report has been granted authorization to use and reproduce by Fundación Alternativas. For academic purposes only. Executive summary is based on the paper.

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