Is Europe losing its guiding principles? Is Europe on a course to being fragmented?

Over the last decades, Europe was overwhelmingly considered as a success story – and rightly so. Sure, there were debates and problems, but not on core matters. On the contrary: the end of the east-west conflict, different rounds of enlargement, and the introduction of the Euro established the perception of an ongoing strengthening of Europe. This seems to now be coming to an end.

There are at least four crises where Europe is stumbling: first, the ongoing euro crisis. The referendum in Greece is irrelevant here. When the Greeks do not want to be humiliated, they are free to live by themselves. But the inability of the European agencies to accept their own rules, without bending them, is worrying.

Second, the apparent helplessness regarding waves of migrants moving toward Europe from Africa. Short-term assistance and mid-term signals are confused, and there is no coherent European response. Thirdly, the wavering positions toward an aggressive Russia. The only helpful response – a clear communication of red lines and their enforcement – is missing.

And fourthly, an unconvincing whining about continuing and clear violations of rules and standards by American spy agencies being active in Europe. Because the American nerve will listen to European concerns, a much higher European independence from the US would be the only solution.

In all these cases, the core problem is a confused (or missing) European signalling.

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  1. Alexei Voskressenski 2 years ago

    Once Mr. John McCormick wrote a book “The European Superpower.” It was published in 2007 in the middle of the discussion that started after the dissolution of the USSR on the role of power in world politics. At the time the EU rejected the idea, but since then the world has started to change: at first the financial-economic crisis occurred, the USA leadership started to blur, now the euro is shaking, migrants are coming, Russia has become a challenge. If the EU started to discuss a higher independence from the US, then to become a full scale superpower may be a solution.
    However this would imply the need for fundamental changes in the initial construction of the EU that up until now, Europe has rejected. The question is whether this is agreeable for smaller EU member-states?

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  2. Barbara Dietz 2 years ago

    As a matter of fact the European Union has strengthened and it has enlarged. And although it faces a number of severe economic and political challenges, the European Union is still an attractive place to be and a highly important global political actor. This makes it particularly urgent to address the many unsolved problems, of which the European migration and asylum crisis is one of the most pressing. In this case it seems that agreements, regulations and EU rules exist that could be put into practice to cope with the admission of people fleeing from conflict, persecution and poverty (see http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/asylum/index_en.htm). However, so far already efforts to enforce intra-European Union burden sharing with those EU countries receiving the most arrivals and those hosting the most asylum-seekers have failed. There is reason to believe that the asylum crisis is exemplary for situations where agreed upon humanitarian principles and rules of law exist in the European Union while institutions that are able to enforce them are not effective.

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2 Comments

  1. Mathias J. Jongkor 2 years ago

    The analyse of the situation, Europe losing its guiding principles is correct. Europe has major problems as a result of migrants moving toward Europe and the lack of a European response to the situation is troubling. Upholding the rights of poor migrants is great in theory but it is difficult as the economic climate is still dim, many Europeans are unemployed and wary of foreign workers. The EU countries also haven’t proposed how to divided and share the refugee burden, ultimately their needs to be a security solution for the EU countries. Also, American spy agencies active in Europe for example, spying on French Presidents and the German Prime Minister, Angela Merkel is unacceptable. Infringing on a Nation states right to privacy and security and as a result I agree a higher independence from the US is the only solution.

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  2. AW 2 years ago

    For a very long time Europe as a political actor was able to avoid dealing with the “dirty” side of politics like military involvement, dealing with brutal and simply authoritarian regimes and being dependent on their support etc. Now too many mistakes have been made, so that Europe is forced into unpopular but the only reasonable policy. It’s ok, because even EU’s allies like US and Australia do things like that, but hard to accept, if your people are used to the idea of “civil power” and perfect state without negative sides. Concretely I mean things like strict regulation of refugee migration and sending people back, if they are not coming from conflict regions; enforcing its own rules when it comes to financial system, as well as spending own money on domestic and international security, but first and foremost: being able to neglect idealistic leftists voices. Its a bit like growing up: its ok to smoke grass and occasionally get drunk, when you’re living with parents, who take care of you. But when you move out, time comes to do boring things like going to job and paying the rent. Hopefully the European politicians (many of whom were influenced by the very naive 1968 movement), have not forgotten to grow up.

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