When Marty played Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” at the end of the cult film “Back to the Future”, he was surprised to see the crowd’s confused and resentful faces. In that moment, he realised that he’d played a rock’n’roll song just a bit too modern for a 1955 audience, and he said “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.”
That scene reminded me of the EU Enlargement policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans, almost 30 years after the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the promise to all countries from the region to be part of the EU.
As Chuck Berry sang, “his mother told him – someday you will be a man…maybe someday your name will be in the lights, saying Johnny B. Goode tonight”. This year, those dreams went one step further for North Macedonia in March, with the European Council’s green light to begin accession negotiations, before being crushed once again. Like a déjà-vu, it was a neighbour who brought such poor news, this time Bulgaria through its use of a veto on the EU’s decision to open negotiations with the country.
Bulgarian objections over North Macedonia entering the negotiation process have little (nothing) to do with the objective, normative criteria imposed by the EU for the country’s preparedness for this process. The objections are instead of a historical, identity nature. Namely, Bulgaria claims that the origins of the Macedonian nation are Bulgarian, and the Macedonian language is actually a Bulgarian dialect. Also, the demands are that this is officially acknowledged by the state, along with a renunciation of any claims that there is a separate Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. The two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship Good-neighbourliness and Cooperation in 2017, which does not contain any of the aforementioned demands, but they were being adopted in the Bulgarian Parliament as part of a declaration after the signing of the bilateral agreement. Bulgaria also pushes towards these demands and a roadmap for the implementation for the Friendship Agreement to be incorporated in the negotiating framework, which would require an additional chapter in the framework, Number 35.
“This is heavy!” – Marty says this multiple times in the trilogy.
After 28 years, North Macedonia and Greece in 2019 managed to close a long-standing dispute over the country’s name. The process was painful, but necessary for North Macedonia to pave the road towards becoming a NATO member (which happened in March 2020) and an EU member (who knows when?!). The paradox of these two disputes is that the Greeks were very persistent on wanting to prove that there is no connection between the nations, that they are separate, the language they speak, that the cultural and historical background is different. Now, Bulgarians want to prove the opposite, that “we’re all the same”. The declared commitment of Bulgaria to have a role as a regional leader and supporter to the countries of the WB to join the EU has shifted into its purely national interest against the good neighbourly relations and EU values and principles.
The real problem here is that the EU remains powerless to overcome this stands still and deflect the Bulgarian attempt to frame this as an EU issue, not just a Bulgarian issue. The veto is a threat on multiple fronts: to North Macedonia’s EU integration, to the stability of the region, and to the EU’s credibility to fulfil their promises towards the Western Balkans region. With an open dispute and dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina over the Kosovo issue, the EU is further weakening its position in the region as a credible partner, pulling away from its interests in the Western Balkans.
For North Macedonia, it’s unacceptable to be forced into making concessions in this respect. The historical committee created to find facts on the shared history between North Macedonia and Bulgaria was supposed to work towards building trust, and has so far failed in that endeavour. Furthermore, the Prespa Agreement, which concluded the dispute with Greece, is based on the promise of the country’s EU accession. Having no prospect of this ever happening would freeze or shake the implementation of that agreement, which could lead to destabilisation in the relations between North Macedonia and Greece – another threat to regional stability. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that this will increase nationalist rhetoric on both sides, which is “the good old Balkan recipe” for neighbourly relations.
In conclusion, it’s unlikely that the veto could be lifted before the end of the year. Many harsh statements have been made, and apparently there is no goodwill for constructive talks or negotiations now. But what is of absolute necessity is that the European Commission, the European Council majority, but also the Presidency of the Council should persuade its member to pull back from the hostile narrative towards its neighbour and instead be constructive about the envisioned enlargement policy of the Union. And then Marty could say “Great Scott!”.
The blog expresses the personal opinion of the author and is a part of the Road to Warsaw Security Forum: Western Balkans Program
 The Joint Committee of Historical and Educational Issues of North Macedonia-Bulgaria is formed within the Treaty of Friendship Good-neighbourliness and Cooperation and aims to decide on the joint celebration of personalities and events in the two nations’ common history, helping to overcome various interpretations.
 The Prespa Agreement ended the 29-year dispute over the name Macedonia between Greece and North Macedonia, which was a pre-condition for the latter country to be unblocked on its path towards EU membership.Katerina Jakimovska Balkans Enlargment Integration
Back to the Future? EU Membership Ambitions Stuck in Time
07 Dec 2020
A series of four terrorist attacks hit France and Austria between 25 September and 2 November 2020. All were perpetrated by young jihadists. At least eight people were killed, excluding the terrorists, and more were injured, some seriously.
On 25 September in Paris, Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, a 25-year-old Pakistani immigrant, stabbed two people outside the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine. On 16 October 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris, a Russian refugee of Chechen origins, Abdoullakh Abouyezidevich Anzonov, beheaded a schoolteacher. On 29 October, Brahim Aouissaoui, a Tunisian citizen, killed three people with a knife at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice. And on 2 November, a dual Austrian-North Macedonian national, Kujtim Fejzula, went on a shooting spree, killing four people at Schwedenplatz in the centre of Vienna and wounding many others.
All these attacks continue to be investigated. So far, there is nothing to suggest that they have been coordinated from one place. The three attacks in France were each perpetrated by knife-wielding young men who took ‘revenge’ on those who they claimed offended Islam or simply, as in Nice, those present in a Christian church.
The Vienna shooting stands out in that it was probably planned by a larger terrorist group and has had cross-border dimensions. Additional attacks have been foiled in Belgium and Greece.
At least one counter-attack occurred in France. On 29 October, the French police shot and killed a knife-wielding far-right extremist who threatened a North African merchant in the city of Avignon.
What lessons can Europe take from this wave of Islamist terror?
Cooperation between intelligence agencies
Communication between national intelligence agencies in Europe, Africa, and Asia needs to improve. The Vienna attack shows that, as on several occasions in the past, national agencies failed to act on one another’s information. Back in 2015, the terror attacks on 13 November in Paris could have been prevented had French intelligence acted on warnings from Turkey and Iraq.
Returning to the Vienna shooting, during the summer, a known Islamist radical, Kujtim Fejzula, tried purchasing ammunition in Slovakia. He was unsuccessful because he did not have a firearms license. Slovakia’s intelligence service shared the information with their Austrian colleagues. However, something went wrong in the subsequent communication. Fejzula was not being followed at the time of the attack.
The EU’s national security services in cooperation with the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre and Europol are currently working to prevent another terrorist attack. This joint effort needs to become permanent and institutionalised.
The knife attack in Nice points to gaps in the EU’s asylum and border policies. The attacker was a Tunisian citizen who recently crossed to Italy by boat, possibly with the assistance of smugglers. Italian authorities conducted a security check on him but classified him as not dangerous. Despite issuing him with a deportation order, they did not detain him, and he was free to travel to France, where he killed three people.
Security checks are of little use in cases where the individual in question has no criminal record. Therefore, automatic detention for irregular arrivals, except for unaccompanied children, should be considered during negotiations on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The non-frontline EU members would need to support the EU’s southern countries in creating the requisite detention capacity. Without such assistance, the frontline states have few incentives to be vigilant on security when processing irregular arrivals.
As ever, preventing irregular departures towards Europe is the preferred option, rather than detaining people on European soil.
European politicians will have to pay more attention to the ideology of Islamism, some of whose branches form the basis of jihadi terrorism. Verbal condemnations are necessary, but action is what truly counts.
All four attacks were perpetrated by young men aged 18 to 25. This is a group particularly vulnerable to being radicalised. Due to their young age, the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and Nice attackers must have been radicalised relatively quickly and recently, the former in France and the latter in Tunisia. Addressing radicalisation among this demographic group remains one of the toughest challenges.
Only the terrorist from Vienna had a clear record of jihadist fundamentalism, including an attempted trip to Syria to join ISIS. He was also the only one to possess EU citizenship. The remaining ones had either immigrant or refugee status. Europe needs to find the right balance between respect for the Refugee Convention on the one hand, and preventing terrorism perpetrated by a tiny section of migrants on the other.
Schools should be one focus of attention, as highlighted by a Martens Centre paper, Lifting the Integration Veil: Outcasts from Islam in Western Europe by Tommaso Virgili. Teachers in our elementary and secondary schools need to receive support when faced with intolerance by students and their parents. In reverse, the state authorities need to detect those cases where teachers themselves spread religious radicalism.
The teaching of Islam in Europe needs to be put in the hands of tutors who understand European societies, speak their languages, promote peaceful forms of Islam, and are committed to fundamental principles such as freedom of speech.
Although not the cause of jihadism, it is also important to enforce anti-discrimination rules to assure people of migrant backgrounds that they have a firm place in our societies. This includes measures in the labour market where positions in the public and private sectors need to be accessible to people irrespective of their religion and ethnic background.
Tackling radicalisation on the Internet and in some mosques is becoming a necessity.
As President Macron asserted, the laws of the French Republic cannot be questioned in the name of a hostile ideology. The religious neutrality of the state must be preserved. But as Austrian Chancellor Kurz put it, countering terrorism and upholding the law must be undertaken without dividing our societies between Christians and Muslims, or locals and immigrants. The challenge facing our politicians is massive: prevent terrorism without pitting groups of citizens against one another. Freedom of conscience and religion has to be preserved, be it for Christians, Muslims, or atheists.
I would like to thank Conor McArdle for his background research on the topic, Theo Larue for proofreading the text and Roland Freudenstein for comments.Vít Novotný Integration Islam Migration Security
What are the Lessons From the Terrorist Attacks in France and Austria?
17 Nov 2020
The article examines the immigration and integration policies of France, Sweden, Germany and Denmark. It argues that there is a need for a more unified understanding of the concept of integration throughout the member states. Although European law does not regulate the issue of immigrant integration as it is a competence of the member states, there is a need for a unified understanding of integration. Denmark’s integration policy is described as an example of an effective policy that ought to be emulated, in contrast to those of other countries. The article concludes that the problems France, Sweden and Germany face in integrating newcomers are partly due to a lack of consensus about what integration ought to be.
Read the full article of the June 2020 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Claudia Cajvan EU Member States European Union Integration Migration
Lessons From Migrant Integration Into European Societies
30 Jun 2020
The article describes the socio-demographic situation of Western Pomerania following Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004. Western Pomerania faced a number of challenges: a brain drain, a rapidly ageing society and a shortage of workers. The region’s demographic situation was particularly serious compared to Poland’s other regions. However, Western Pomerania is now profiting from an inflow of migrants, especially from Ukraine, which is boosting the region’s economy. The article describes the measures undertaken on the local and regional level to promote the inflow of economic migrants and to integrate them into the local society. The measures described are helping to form a broader regional strategy to tackle the challenges of people leaving the region, the ageing population and a departing workforce. The article argues that if the proper support for newcomers is provided, migration could become a positive factor for the local economy.
Read the full article of the June 2020 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Olgierd Geblewicz EU Institutions EU Member States Integration Migration
Western Pomeranian Experiences with Migration and Emigration: The Need for Local Solutions
15 Jun 2020
The executive board of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies at its last board meeting approved the nomination of Professor Lars Jonung as the centre’s newest Senior Research Associate.
Professor Lars Jonung is a Swedish economist, and Professor at Knut Wicksell Centre for Financial Studies, Department of Economics, Lund University, Sweden. He was Chairman of the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council from 2012 to 2013, and Research Adviser from 2000 to 2010 at DG ECFIN with the European Commission, where he focused on macroeconomic and financial issues related to the euro. He was previously Professor of Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics, and served as Chief Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Carl Bildt, from 1992 to 1994.
“We are excited to have Professor Emeritus Lars Jonung of the Knut Wicksell Centre for Financial Studies joining us as a Senior Research Associate. Professor Jonung’s acknowledged expertise in the areas of monetary and fiscal policy, financial crises, the euro, European integration, and the history of economic thought will be invaluable to us as we continue to develop the case for a reformed, more decentralised Eurozone” said Dr Eoin Drea, senior research officer at the Martens Centre.Economy Eurozone Integration
Martens Centre welcomes Lars Jonung as Senior Research Associate
06 Mar 2020
It is difficult to estimate how many Roma live in Slovakia; when the census is taken many Roma say that they are of Slovak or Hungarian nationality. In 2013, a special census by the UN Development Programme produced the Atlas of Roma communities in Slovakia 2013, which estimates that there are 400,000 Roma living in Slovakia, representing 7 %–8 % of the total population of 5.4 million.
Furthermore, the Atlas indicated that Roma communities live in 1,070 municipalities and towns in Slovakia, approximately 37 % of the total number. Some Roma live in impoverished groups in settlements, while others form part of the majority society. According to sources, in many municipalities today Roma represent the majority of the population, and in many districts Roma births form the majority. Overall, the Roma population represents close to 15 % of the working-age population in Slovakia.
Yet despite the relatively high presence of Roma in Slovak society, their representation in the different levels of politics is very low. A Roma representative was elected to the national Parliament of the Slovak Republic for the first time in 2012. At the local level, fewer than 2 % of the elected deputies are Roma, the result of the most recent local authority elections in 2014. The level of participation of any minority—in this case the Roma—mostly depends on the circumstances (in terms of education, communication and societal tolerance and acceptance) determined by society and by politicians. How should society respond to this situation, and what might be done by government?
The journey of Slovak Roma towards political and legal equality
The first systematic attempts to organise the Roma go back a long time. A pan-European Roma conference took place in Kisfalu, Hungary as early as 1879, but, even then, such activity was not welcomed by the government.
Read the full FREE article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Marek Degro Education Integration
Engaging the Roma community in the political party process in Slovakia
08 Sep 2019
The perspective that the Union is a project is holding us back. The Union simply needs to be pragmatic.
In 2008-2010 I served as secretary general of Felipe Gonzalez’s reflection group on the future of Europe. The title of its final report was “Project Europe 2030”. While several recommendations remain valid, I have been gradually realizing that the title was a mistake.
That it is exactly this kind of understating of the European Union that is holding us back. The Union is not a project. It is not an unfinished project. It is a product. It is a product of countless thinkers, politicians, civil servants and citizens. It is a result of centuries of dreams and decades of institution building.
The Union is here to be utilised. It is not here to be upgraded, rebuilt or reformed. With the coming European elections, political parties and politicians are publishing their election platforms. Promising change has always been an effective political strategy. Almost everyone is promising some kind of a reform of the Union.
The other usual strategy to motivate voters is creating some kind of sense of urgency. It is supposed to be urgent to reform the Union. Because of populism, economic crisis, Brexit, migration … What I will explain is that most reforms are neither urgent, nor possible, nor reasonable.
Project ‘socially just Europe’?
The reform that the progressives are promising is in the direction of a fairer, more social Europe. What they understand by justice is redistributive justice. This is not something that can be achieved on the EU level. For the Union to redistribute between the rich and the poor it simply does not have the budget.
Technically it could create such a budget but the citizens are willing to show solidarity within their group, their nation-state. It is quite unlikely that the, say, Germans would be willing to pay for Italian social benefits. Such promises are just creating expectations which, when unfulfilled will create the disillusionment with the European project.
The other possible interpretation of more socially just Europe is for the Union to instruct member states how they should redistribute between the rich and the poor. But it does not have this competence. Indeed, it could be reformed to get it. But it would be stupid to centrally prescribe the social model, harmonize tax policies, social security policies etc.
The strength of Europe has always been diversity and the opportunity for different countries to search for solutions in different directions. Then we have been quick to learn from each other. The social model innovation will be important because of the changes in the labour market caused by the technological revolution therefore it is important to keep Europe innovative in this regard. In summary, more social Europe is mostly hot air.
Project ‘ever closer Union’?
The reform that the liberals are advocating is an ever-closer Union. United States of Europe. Union of European Socialist (well, liberal) Republics. This is not impossible. An ever-closer union has been a kind of underlying belief of Brussels European, of the EU administration. It is the “project Europe” by excellence.
The project would be unfinished until there is a European super-state. Such as state is possible. But it is not possible for it to be democratic. For one simple reason. Democracy assumes there is a demos. There is no European demos. There are demoi – Germans, French, Slovaks etc. Demos is not an intellectual construct that could be created by good PR coming from Brussels. It is a feeling of belonging. And according to Eurobarometer, Europeans identify with their nations an order of magnitude more than they identify with the European Union.
A monolithic Europe is also not European. It does not matter if European competitors, like China, are growing stronger. China has always been a centralized empire. Europe’s strength has been its diversity. In fact, periods of fastest progress were when European entities were competing with each other – like rivalries among ancient Greek states, among city states of renaissance Italy, among the members of the Hanseatic league, among the kingdoms on the Atlantic competing for colonies.
Even when it looked that the Catholic Church would create a single authority over the continent Martin Luther rebelled. The Italian renaissance from which Emmanuel Macron is borrowing a title for his vision was a result of a competition among many city-states of ununified Italy and not a centrally driven project.
Generally, the Union is close enough. Macron’s plan is an “ever-closer union light” with a couple of new Brussels agencies, including the rather scary “European agency for the protection of democracies”. Centrally policing the political systems in member states sounds like something from the Warsaw pact playbook.
Yes, human rights, freedoms and liberties need to be guaranteed at the European level and the EU would do well to position itself as the ultimate defender of human rights on the continent. But is should be the judicial arm, not the political executive that should be dealing with it.
Project ‘Europe of Nations’?
The far right rather unintelligibly pasted the idea of nation copied from a member state context to a Union context. While one can understand (though not endorse) the idea of the national populists to pit the original citizens against immigrants, the French against the Arabs, the Germans against the Turks, etc., Europe of nations suggests those ethnicities are represented at the European level.
Which is very different from the Union of the member states, which is what we have today and works reasonably well. Member states are represented at the European Councils, states elect representatives into the European Parliament, states appoint one Commissioner to the European Commission. This reform too is hot air, a dangerous one.
Even further to the right are those whose reform would be to dismantle the Union altogether. Which might get them some protest votes. But they can only advocate the breakup of the Union while there are enough of us who understand that the Union is a tremendously valuable achievement and want to protect it.
The problem with projects is that they are by definition unfinished. They require attention. They are an excuse that work they should be doing is not done properly.
Imagine a family starting a project of a summer home. As long as the summer home is a project they work on the summer home. They do not enjoy it for vacation. They don’t go sunbathing, they are adding another porch. If the stove is not working properly it is because it is a project. It will work when the project is finished, but not yet. Guests should tolerate some cold. Temporarily, of course.
Thinking of the EU as a project is preventing us from exploiting in full what we have built so far. Instead of thinking how to solve problems at hand – such as migrations, terrorism, security, growth, innovation – the institutions are tempted to think how these problems could be solved if the institutions were reformed, if the project was more advanced, if only Brussels had this or that authority, if only this or that agency existed in Brussels.
Instead of making use of what is available, administration is tempted to dream of what would be nice to have. For politicians too, advancing the project is a more noble call than using the institutional and legal tools the project has created so far.
Of course, we need to work on improving the Union. Like living organisms, the Union needs to adapt to a changing environment. What could be needed is an evolution for which current treaties provide many possibilities. If the political will is there. It is the lack of political will not the inadequacies of the treaties that is preventing action.
Perspective is important. And the perspective that the Union is a project is holding us back. The Union simply needs to be pragmatic. In the service of the citizens, businesses, regions, member states. It should provide services that make life safer, easier and the economy more competitive and productive.
This does not sound as noble as starting a renaissance, but someone has to do this as well. As Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote, there is work to be done. Let’s just do it.
This op-ed was originally published on Euractiv.com.Žiga Turk Brexit Democracy EU Institutions European Union Integration Values
Europe is not a project!
26 Mar 2019
There are currently about 44 million Muslims living in Europe, out of which some 20 million live in the European Union. Precise numbers are impossible to come by. If the 20 million figure for the EU is correct, it would represent less than 4 per cent of the EU’s population.
The EU’s Muslim population is composed of two main components: autochthonous, or settled, Muslims in Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and other countries, and Muslim immigrants and their descendants who live predominantly in Western Europe.
The latter group is made up of Muslim citizens originating in former European colonies across the world, guest workers made permanent and their family members, and refugees and economic migrants who may or may not have come to the EU legally.
Islam increasingly plays a role in European politics. The uncontrolled influx of asylum seekers and migrants in the years 2015-16, one that has caused so much political upheaval, was predominantly from Muslim-majority countries.
Many, although not all, terrorist attacks in Europe in recent years have been perpetrated by individuals who claim an allegiance to Islam. And the ideology of Islamism, albeit often non-violent, poses a challenge to our liberal democratic systems. Some features of the complex relationship between the European majority society and Muslims are sometimes forgotten.
Islam does not easily fit the existing state-church relationships in the EU. Built on the hierarchical structure of Christian churches, these relationships assume the existence of a leading authority for each religious body. The European state-church relationships also assume that there is strict separation between state institutions on the one hand and religious institutions on the other.
This separation has been historically instituted to limit church influence on government. Islam is different from today’s Christianity in that the former is a religion, a basis for law and a way of life in one. This difference between Christianity and Islam does not preclude peaceful coexistence of Christians, Muslims, adherents of other religions, atheists and agnostics in Europe.
Nevertheless, incorporating Islam into the European public sphere requires innovative policymaking at the national level, one that guarantees both freedom of religion and the preservation of the European way of life.
Issues within Islam
Islam is by far not the only religion that has ever condoned violence, as the briefest look at any European history book will tell.
Nevertheless, Islam is currently facing problems in adapting to modernity, in a reversal of adaption to Western-type institutions that Muslim-majority countries in Asia and Africa experienced in the twentieth century.
Most European Muslims are normal citizens of our societies, contributing to the economy and public life.
The minority that turn to the ideology of Islamism adopt views that in the words of Thomas Volk, an author in a recent Martens Centre publication, ‘militate against democratic institutions and propagate various forms of religious and political activism, from instituting sharia law to pan-Islamic political unity and the establishment of a caliphate in Europe.’
Some young Muslims in Europe are facing a conflict of identities, being split between belonging to traditional communities of their parents and the modern secularised Western culture. Unable to identify with either of these cultures, they may adopt the radical views of violent jihadism.
The path to Islamism is aided by several unfortunate facts. Like most nominal European Christians in relation to Christianity, some European Muslims have only scant knowledge of Islam.
However, it is often Muslim religious illiterates who turn to violence. Those imams that are active in immigrant Muslim communities are often not acquainted with European culture and fundamental rights anchored in our constitutions and therefore are not in a position to provide guidance.
The Internet serves as a tool for radicalisation, propagating fundamentalist versions of Islam. Finally, a few Muslim-majority countries, for example Saudi Arabia, finance Sunni Islamic radicalism as part of their worldwide contest with the Shi’a branch Islam, and with the modern world as a whole.
The individual and collective rebellion against the ‘decadent’ majority culture becomes an attractive option not only for criminals but also for apparently well-integrated youngsters, longing to serve a life cause. This also explains that about 10 per cent of European jihadists are converts.
Religious schooling for young Muslims (one grounded in the Koran and religious teachings, in the European way of life and Europe’s constitutions), controls of the Internet and checks on foreign financing of mosques are the logical measures to be adopted by European legislators and policymakers.
The majority culture
A 2015 survey by the Pew Research Centre revealed that views of Muslim minorities in Europe depend on the country. In Italy, 63 per cent of those surveyed had an unfavourable opinion of Muslims in their country but the figure was only 33 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in France.
However, a 2017 opinion poll by Chatham House showed that an average of 55 per cent agreed with the statement that ‘all further immigration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. Longitudinal studies of European majority views of Muslims are hard to come by and we should not automatically conclude that these views on Muslims are getting worse.
Continuing secularisation complicates the acceptance by Europeans of the religious devotion and symbols associated with Islam. The belief that a strong Muslim identity undermines national identity is related to these concerns.
What is clear is that the failed management of the migrant and refugee crisis, resulting in an influx of people from Muslim-majority countries, has given voice to protest parties that politically use and even promote the popular apprehensions of Islam and Muslims. Islamists and right-wing populists end up feeding on each other, and radical discourse is making its way into the political mainstream.
Effective immigration controls, better guarding of the EU’s external border in collaboration with third countries (while adhering to universal human right standards in dealing with migrants and refugees), as well as tackling the stubborn issues of immigrant integration are among the necessary policy elements in assuring the majority that coexistence with Islam in Europe is possible.
And if European governments, political parties, civil society and religious associations succeed in forging strong national and European identities and loyalty to our constitutions, this coexistence can even be beneficial to our societies.Vít Novotný Immigration Integration Islam Religion Society
Some remarks on Islam in Europe
18 Dec 2017
On November 10th 2017, the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, released a joint communication on improving military mobility in the European Union.
According to Mogherini, this is important because there is “a growing demand” for the member states “to coordinate and work together on defence”. This proposal is part of the EU’s on-going efforts to strengthen its role in the area of security and defence, which has gained momentum since the publication of the Union’s 2016 Global Strategy.
If followed up with a clear action plan, the proposal will strengthen the EU’s defence dimension, and boost its cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
It calls for the development of a shared understanding of the EU’s military needs and requirements; a common understanding of the infrastructure to be used and its impact on the infrastructural standards; and addressing the relevant regulatory and procedural issues that hinder military mobility.
If followed up with a clear action plan, the proposal will strengthen the EU’s defence dimension, and boost its cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The logistics of European defence
‘Military mobility’ is a new addition to the EU’s security and defence jargon. It can be defined as the movement of military personnel, capabilities, and equipment within and across national borders.
During the Cold War, military mobility in Europe was facilitated because large exercises were organised regularly, and the infrastructure for handling force movements was in place.
Today, it is hindered by a range of physical, legal, and regulatory barriers, which make it difficult to move troops, equipment, and capabilities swiftly from one country to another. This creates delays and extra costs when troops need to be moved across borders to a multinational exercise for example.
During the Cold War, military mobility in Europe was facilitated because large exercises were organised regularly, and the infrastructure for handling force movements was in place.
In September, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Commander of United States (US) Army Europe, noted that “most people would be astounded” to find out what NATO has to do to move troops in Europe. According to Lt. Gen Hodges the Alliance has “to submit a list of all the vehicles, the drivers and what’s in every truck”.
Thus, it often takes weeks to obtain the permission to move through. Furthermore, the bridges and roads in many European countries are often unable to support the weight of armoured and other heavy vehicles. In a genuine crisis, such red tape and infrastructure problems could become security threats in themselves.
Recently, there have been calls, especially by the Netherlands, to create a type of “military Schengen area”, within which military personnel and materiel can be moved quickly throughout Europe.
In fact, the Dutch, together with a half-dozen other member states, have proposed a “military Schengen area” as one of the projects to be conducted within the framework of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
The joint communication was welcomed especially by those EU member states that border Russia and require external assistance in the event of a crisis.
For example Estonia’s Ambassador to the EU’s Political and Security Committee (PSC), Lembit Uibo, tweeted that Estonia “welcomes the EU joint communication on military mobility” because removing bureaucratic and infrastructural barriers to the swift movement of forces in Europe “enhances our collective security and complements NATO”.
The proposal to improve military mobility in the EU is one in which there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The initiative also enjoys NATO’s full support. The Alliance’s Director for Defence Policy and Capabilities, Timo S. Koster, described it in a tweet as a “very helpful move” by the EU that was “carefully prepared” with NATO.
Furthermore, he saw that “everything civilian” about military mobility is best done by the Commission and the EU’s member states. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also thought that military mobility could become “a flagship for NATO-EU cooperation”.
The initiative is also backed by the United States (US). On November 9, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis noted that if you want a NATO that is “truly capable of protecting the democracies here [in Europe], you have got to be able to work together, and one of the most fundamental points of that is at the point of borders where you speed troops if they are needed somewhere else in the Alliance”. He saluted the Netherlands for pushing for a military Schengen in the EU, and noted the US supports the EU in implementing the Dutch proposal.
The way forward
The proposal to improve military mobility in the EU is one in which there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is especially the case because its aim is not to take away the member states’ sovereign right to decide whether military forces from another country can enter their territory.
Instead, it aims to facilitate military mobility in full respect of the member states’ sovereignty and in accordance with the existing treaties and legislation. Thus, it will not require a treaty change.
The initiative also furthers the policy goals of the European People Party (EPP). To protect European citizens, the December 2016 EPP Paper on Security and Defence notes that the member states “shall cooperate, share relevant information and ensure rapid responses in order to build resilience, address present challenges, such as irregular migration, and effectively counter hybrid threats, such as cyber security and disinformation campaigns.”
The improvement in military mobility would certainly improve the EU’s rapid response capability, its resilience, and its ability to counter hybrid threats.
The next major step in the EU’s efforts to improve military mobility will be an Action Plan on Military Mobility, which the High Representative and the Commission will submit for the member states’ endorsement by March 2018. The European Defence Agency (EDA) has already set up an expert-level Ad Hoc Working Group to support the Action Plan’s elaboration.
As the group that has been leading the debate on European defence since 1992, the EPP is uniquely positioned to provide ideas and input to this Action Plan to ensure that it will be both ambitious and realistic.
The EPP could lead the way in proposing ways to cut the existing administrative red tape that hinders military mobility. For example the EPP Action Programme from the 2014 Dublin congress called for the EU to take steps to remove transportation bottlenecks, “especially in the form of administrative and technological barriers in order to create a modern, efficient and sustainable European transportation infrastructure”. Thus, the improvement of military mobility should be done in a way that would facilitate the realisation of this goal.Niklas Nováky Defence Integration Society
The Commission’s military mobility proposal: a good first step
21 Nov 2017
Much ink has been shed on the prospect of the emergence of a European public sphere, with several scholars, politicians, and journalists engaging in intense debates on the issue. While the times of ‘permissive consensus’ have passed, today the EU faces a series of challenges within the globalised environment, that require, inter alia, legitimate, accountable, and transparent action.
In this regard, the establishment of a genuine European public sphere should be considered as more urgent than ever. The seminal State of the European Union (SOTEU) speech delivered by President of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, seems capable to provide notable opportunities.
Habermas has defined the public sphere as an intermediate open forum which is beyond the state and the market, where private citizens assemble in order to deliberate, problematise, criticise, debate, and (inter)act on equal terms with public authorities, in the context of constitutional democracy, having received knowledge and information by different associations and the media.
This way individuals act as a counterweight to decision makers’ authority. Regarding the emergence of a European public sphere, a vast majority of researchers have adopted a media-related approach, through which the number of media outlets’ references to EU actors, policies, and politics is examined, while at the same time the content of the relevant information is analysed. The dominant view is that the increase of the EU’s visibility within media outlets will render the emergence of a European Public Sphere plausible.
Besides, mass media hold a pivotal role in what we call a public sphere. They supply the public with information and enable them to monitor decision-makers’ activity, facilitating the electorates to decide among different competitive parties, thus paving the way for citizens’ participation in politics or even challenging the legislative and executive branch.
In the meantime, there is a broad consensus towards the argument of the Europeanisation of national public spheres instead of suggesting that a single and genuine pan-European public sphere has emerged. The lack of a common European identity, of a shared language and a European discourse as well as the limited capacity of pan-European media such as Politico, Euronews or EurActiv to reach wide constituencies outside of Brussels, have led various researchers to this conclusion.
However, distinct events such as the annual speech of the President of the European Commission, which received great coverage across media outlets in Europe, and attracted the vivid interest of European constituencies, may lead many to reconsider their views.
More concretely, more than 500 media outlets published related articles directly mentioning SOTEU with overwhelmingly positive tonality, while almost 1000 pieces referred in general to President Juncker on that day and the days that followed. At the same time, TV channels showed lively interest in the event, as approximately 150 of them reported on the speech. Not least, about half of them broadcasted live President Juncker’s address.
Meanwhile, the number of viewers who watched the SOTEU live through social media and the Commission’s AV portal approached 1.5 million. As the speech was broadcast by TV channels and the European Parliament’s portal as well, one might reasonably assume that the current number was probably far more remarkable.
Some of them seemed very pro-active on social media, posting and interacting about proposals and content of the speech. The SOTEU hashtag was used more than 80.000 times, while mentions to President Juncker were almost twice as much. The SOTEU hashtag was a worldwide top trend that day.
Even without a qualitative analysis of this data, it is certain that President Juncker’s proposal on the Future of Europe, as well as his suggestions on key policies, provoked strong reactions and discussions among decision-makers, journalists, and ordinary citizens.
Undoubtedly, it met the requirements that different scholars have set for the establishment of a genuine European Public Sphere (e.g. discussion of the same issues at a given timeframe, and indicating similar aspects of relevance among others).
Although one might appear hesitant to admit that a genuine European Public Sphere can be established by any single event, regardless of how bright and seminal it could be, the SOTEU in conjunction with a series of key initiatives towards the strengthening of European democracy could prove to be decisive.
The preservation of the lead candidates’ system, running for the Commission Presidency – the Spitzenkandidaten – the wide and inclusive Pan-European campaigns in the context of the European Parliament elections, the Citizens Dialogues, and other initiatives are some key examples.
Certainly, a European Public Sphere will not emerge all of a sudden. Paraphrasing the historical words delivered by the French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950, a European Public Sphere will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. Instead, it will be built through concrete initiatives and policies which first create a de facto solidarity and we-feeling.Stergios Fotopoulos EU Institutions European Union Integration Leadership
The making of a European public sphere: the State of the Union 2017
16 Oct 2017
The first question that needs to be answered is still the familiar one: ‘do we even need Europe at all, with all the expense it entails?’
The answer, quite simply, is yes, because, unlike in the past, the traditional nation state can no longer protect its citizens and tackle the immense challenges it faces using only the instruments available at national level.
For example: what is the use of the German government’s decision to shut down the country’s nuclear power plants if at the same time new plants of this type are being built in France and the Czech Republic? Is a system of national drug licensing fit for purpose now that citizens can buy medication anywhere in Europe?
Does fighting cybercrime and tax avoidance at the national level stand any chance of success these days? What about environmental protection and competition law? When it comes to the limitations of national action, the list is endless. In these areas, the European level must be used on a supplementary—in other words, subsidiary—basis.
In addition, Europe is urgently needed as a unified ‘voice of reason’, championing peace and stability in what has become an unpredictable world.
Having answered the initial question in the affirmative, let us immediately turn to a second question, namely why it is still so difficult for many people to accept the European level, despite its importance. In response, I would say that the practical implementation of European policy requires a radical rethink: European decisions, by definition, must be geared towards what is best for Europe as a whole, rather than the good of individual nation states, as has often been the case up to now.
Of course there may be divergences between the two. For example, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has justified his zero-interest policy (which is hopefully now nearing the end of the road) by emphasising his commitment to the European common good. Accepting this may be far from easy, but it is essential to Europe’s long-term success.
The election of Emmanuel Macron as French president has fuelled great expectations of the new Franco-German partnership. These range from cutting youth unemployment and supporting neglected regions to curbing right-wing nationalism.
However, simply handing out money would be expensive and entirely unhelpful. Instead, the following measures should be taken:
- Support should be provided for an effective structural policy that will get the neglected regions back on the right track.
- Dual education, combining apprenticeships with vocational training, should be introduced across Europe, as only this will create the conditions for successful small and medium-sized enterprises.
- A genuine social partnership must be established between employers and trade unions throughout Europe; as long as these two key players continue to view each other as enemies, as is the case in some countries, the cooperation needed for economic success will remain out of reach.
- The political class in southern Europe must have the courage to implement unpopular but inevitable reforms at national level, similar to the Agenda 2010 reforms undertaken in Germany. If you want a stable currency, you need to build an efficient economic structure.
- The European level must facilitate economic development, and so enable job creation, by cutting red tape and preventing its further proliferation.
- The European level must exert all its global influence to reject any attempts around the world to put up protectionist trade barriers. For our part, we in Germany should take seriously our neighbours’ recommendations to ‘normalise’ our high current account surplus through domestic investment.
It is fair to say that European integration to date has been a huge success. Since Europe faced its darkest hour at the end of the horrific Second World War, the continent and Germany in particular have experienced an astonishing recovery.
This success, unprecedented in history, was born of a number of factors, but European integration is certainly foremost among them. Only when enemies had become partners and friends could the foundations be laid for Europe’s new, universally admired role and importance on the world stage.
To conclude, the long-term success of our own country, Germany, depends on the success of the European project. We are, indeed, already bound by a common destiny.Ingo Friedrich EU Institutions EU Member States Integration
Emmanuel Macron: where do we go from here?
11 Sep 2017
For the first time the EU has reached not just a stopping point, but a possible turning point. The Brexit decision has only made this more evident. Using the current crisis for a ‘great leap forward’ towards ever closer ‘political union’ hardly seems realistic, even in the absence of the notorious British opposition.
Even the member states that are most ardently calling for a ‘political union’ do not agree on what that should actually mean. Using the examples of France and Germany and their seemingly identical calls for a ‘fiscal union’ of the eurozone, this article shows that the two countries have contrasting interpretations of what such a union should do, and how.
Both the French ideal of a voluntarist ‘economic government’ of the eurozone and the German model of a rules-based ‘economic constitution’ would require substantial changes to the EU treaties, for which there is no real hope of democratic consent. The legitimacy challenge has thus become both more urgent and more difficult to overcome.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Michael Wohlgemuth Democracy European Union Eurozone Integration
Political union and the legitimacy challenge
24 May 2017
The need for a fiscal union in the EU is an issue which has been debated many times and about which much has been written. However, the economic and financial crisis we have experienced in recent years has cast doubt on whether we have taken this debate in the right direction. Sometimes we tend to focus the debate on marginal issues and unrealistic proposals. Rather than helping us to move forward, this paralyses the EU and distances us from feasible targets. This article aims to give a general overview of the debate on a fiscal union to find out where we are in the process of fiscal integration and what we can really expect from it.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Miguel Marín Crisis Eurozone Integration Macroeconomics
The only feasible fiscal union for the euro area
17 May 2017
This article argues that the traditional European narrative based on the rhetoric of progress, openness, ‘an ever closer union’ and the ever greater sharing of sovereignty has lost traction with a significant percentage of the European electorate, who are gripped by frustration, insecurity and disarray. It sketches the broad lines of a new Europeanism, arguably one that would be better equipped to deal with populism and identity politics. It makes the case for a ‘leaner Europe’, less bureaucratic and intrusive, but also more openly political and culturally grounded.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Federico Ottavio Reho EU Member States European Union Eurozone Integration
Federico Ottavio Reho
A new Europeanism before it is too late
11 May 2017
Now that the wrangling about quotas for refugees among the member states of the Union is over (for the time being), and Europe is more focused on regaining control of our external borders, it’s time to look at some of the more long term questions concerning our identity.
Most of Europe’s leaders agree that the current wave of migrants coming to Europe will change our societies. Some express fears (that Europe will lose its Christian identity), others hope (that more diversity will make us more tolerant, less nationalist, more open). Others are simply skeptical whether the sudden influx will be easy to manage without bringing our societies near breaking point.
Let me first deal with two notions that I reject. The first one claims that the sheer fact that migrants come from a different culture and embrace a different faith, will put European civilisation in jeopardy. The other one says that a massive influx of people from other cultures automatically makes us better people because diversity is always good: the more multicultural our identity, the better we will become. Both notions are deeply mistaken.
The fatalists claiming that European civilisation has now signed its own death warrant, might want to take a look at examples of successful integration in counter-intuitive places, such as the Vietnamese in the Czech Republic whose second generation is melting beautifully into Czech society. They are neither white, nor to any significant extent Christian.
But on the other hand, the starry-eyed multiculturalists have a hard time defending the growth of parallel societies, in which the central values of our constitutions (equal rights for men and women, freedom of expression and faith etc.) are systematically disregarded: in places like Parisian suburbs, parts of Birmingham or Berlin-Neukoelln.
All this brings us to the central long term challenge of the current wave of refugees, many of whom are here to stay for a long time: Integration. Looking back at different European strategies over the past five decades, none can be called fully successful. That has many reasons, but one of them is that too often, efforts to effectively integrate migrants have not been made, either because we denied that we are facing (and for demographic reasons, even need) immigration, or because insisting on values was somehow smacking of Western imperialism.
It’s time to take a fresh look. Germany’s debate in recent weeks shows that. Germans continue to be more than willing to shelter those whose lives are threatened. But integration has become one of the hottest topics of German politics, thanks to the refugees. A whole group of politicians from the CDU and the Greens is now openly talking about migrants’ obligation to integrate. As wobbly as it sounds, and as hard as it is to enforce this, it will nevertheless have to become an indispensable part of ‘Willkommenskultur’.
Public administration, social services, schools and civil society: they will all have to incorporate a much stronger emphasis on the central values of Western societies when dealing with migrants. This has to happen from day one of the asylum application process. Material success must be clearly and openly linked to successful integration. That means improving access to the labour market as much as a more intensive effort to explain our constitutions and the rights and obligations of citizens. Countries like Canada, Australia or the United States have some useful lessons ready. We should not be shy to use what is applicable to Europe, while knowing full well that we cannot copy 100 %.
Angela Merkel’s ‘Wir schaffen das’ (We’ll manage) should not only refer to the immediate challenge of sheltering hundreds of thousands of people. It should also refer to the challenge of integrating many of them into a modern, open society. The stakes are enormous: if we manage this, the reward will be a younger population, possibly even a completely new link to Middle Eastern countries, as we already have forged new links to Turkey and the Western Balkans in recent decades.
But if we fail, this could still ruin social cohesion, and bring Europe down for good. The question is not whether Europe in 20 years will have fewer Christians and more Muslims. The question is whether we will still be an open society. If that is what we want to be, we need to get serious about integration now.Roland Freudenstein Immigration Integration Migration Social Policy Values
Who do we want to be in 20 years? European identity and the refugee crisis
01 Oct 2015
An article dealing with the meaning of European federalism may appear untimely and anachronistic to many contemporary readers. It comes at a moment when the European ideal is under great strain, when only a handful of dreamers still have the temerity to call themselves ‘federalists’, and almost none of them would dare to do so in public. The EU has been mired for years in an economic crisis of unusual length and scope, the legitimacy of its institutions is being questioned and anti-EU forces are on the rise in many countries.
Besides, the claim to be offering a reappraisal of such an important topic may appear presumptuous, coming as it does after more than 60 years of European integration and many profound appraisals of this historical process.
However, very little systematic analysis has been carried out so far on the meaning of European federalism. This article, far from conclusive and all-encompassing, is a contribution in the direction of such an analysis. It reflects on the meaning of European federalism and argues that the values and policies it implies could offer answers to many contemporary challenges and change the EU and its member states for the better.
The first section deals with the ideals and institutional structure underpinning federalism. The second sketches the economic constitution of a federal polity. The third section briefly illustrates how this federalism can help meet certain contemporary challenges.
The meaning of federalism
Whereas the US founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia to draft the original constitution of the United States, the European founding fathers never fully articulated their political vision of an integrated Europe in a constitutional document. Therefore, the origins of European integration contain no grand federalising moment comparable to the US Constitutional Convention. European integration developed as a process for which ‘ever closer union’ and federalism were simply regulative ideals and not elements of a precise constitutional blueprint.
Today, a long way down the path of integration, this ambiguity seems less and less tenable, as it leaves all pro-Europeans open to the accusation that they are ultimately struggling to unify the continent within a state-like polity similar to those that unified the various European nations in previous centuries.
Read the full FREE article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Federico Ottavio Reho Integration Regionalisation Values
Federico Ottavio Reho
Did we get it wrong? The true meaning of European federalism
09 Sep 2015
The political parties from across the European continent have formed transnational political families, based on their values. The ‘internationalisation’ of political parties started in the late nineteenth century, but it was brought to a completely new level once the European Parliament (EP) came into existence, as the parties then had the chance to compare their views and negotiate their positions on the same policy dilemmas at the same time.
From the beginning, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have formed parliamentary groups not according to their nationality, but according to their ideology—just as in national parliaments parliamentary groups are formed by the members who share similar policy orientations in order to better coordinate, share resources and exert influence on policy.
This article analyses the voting behaviour of these pan-European parliamentary groups, whose cohesion and internal splits are used as indicators of the actual symmetries and divisions between national parties belonging to the same political orientation.
How cohesive are the European parliamentary groups in the new term?
The pan-European parties have long been considered mere consultative bodies, rather than decision-making ones. Power has always remained in the hands of the national party chiefs and the heads of state. Traditionally, the leading political figures within the EU institutions, whether commissioners or MEPs, have been seen as following instructions from their party bosses back home.
But the aftermath of the 2014 European elections may indicate a change of direction. Since the Lisbon Treaty, the EP has become bolder, not only when negotiating legislation, but also when appointing the EU’s chief executives. MEPs have been able not only to create a united front among themselves but also to rally support among their colleagues at national level using the structures of the European parties. Ultimately, they submit their candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.
Read for FREE the full article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Doru Petrisor Frantescu EU Institutions EU Member States Integration Values
Doru Petrisor Frantescu
Values topple nationality in the European Parliament
09 Sep 2015
The tenth anniversary of the EU enlargement to countries in Central and Eastern Europe offers an opportunity to take stock of the Visegrád Four, a grouping of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. What has EU membership meant for the Visegrád Four? Should the group have been dissolved when its members entered the EU, as some were suggesting at the time of accession?
In my opinion Visegrád cooperation has its justification even inside the EU. However, its potential remains unfulfilled.
The Visegrád Four has rarely functioned smoothly. The initial Czech boycott in the first half of the 1990s was followed by a paralysis caused by Mečiar’s authoritarian political regime in Slovakia up until 1998.
High-level disputes over the so-called Beneš decrees created rifts between Slovakia and Czechia on one hand, and Hungary on the other hand. Disagreement continues between Hungary and Slovakia regarding the Hungarian citizenship law that affects the Magyar minority in Slovakia.
In foreign policy each of the four countries, including Poland, pursue their narrow national interests even in situations where pulling together would be more effective.
Position in areas such as agricultural policy are far from unified and there is often precious little policy coordination even when it would be beneficial to all.
So is it all negative between the lands of Visegrád? Thankfully, there are positive developments, too.
A closer look reveals that membership in the EU is indeed providing a new raison d´être for the Four: the Visegrád countries do sometimes coordinate their positions in intergovernmental negotiations on different EU policy areas. Energy, defence and security are cases in point. The governments of the four countries have been working especially closely in these areas in response to the evolving Ukrainian crisis.
The group has also jointly supported democratisation processes in Eastern Europe and advocated further EU enlargements.
When it comes to economic policy, the members share the commitment to responsible public budgeting. They have, through joint efforts, made sure that the EU’s banking union will remain open to those countries which currently do not have the euro as their currency.
What is sometimes forgotten, is that the Four have succeeded in creating the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) to increase mutual trade. The CEFTA has succeed beyond expectations. Whilst its founder countries have left CEFTA on their entering the EU, this free trade area now includes now a number of countries in Western Balkans that aspire to the EU membership.
And separately from the national level, non-governmental organisations, churches, researchers, business and regional and municipal governments cooperate closely on a daily basis. To some extent, this is thanks to the government-funded International Visegrád Fund. Collaboration is stronger today than it was ten years ago.
Nevertheless, scope for improvement remains large. For example, the Visegrád Four could more forcefully advocate keeping the EU an open trading economy averse to government protectionism.
The degree of integration in the Visegrád Four is far less than, for example, integration between the three countries of the Benelux. A common parliamentary assembly, such as exists in the Benelux, is a distant dream. Also the Nordic Council could serve as a model of cooperation based on shared values.
It is up to enlightened politicians in Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Czechia to work together more constructively. Here is hoping that they will use the next ten years of EU membership to fulfil the potential of cooperation between the four countries.Vít Novotný EU Member States Integration Regionalisation
The Visegrád Four: working together better thanks to EU membership?
09 May 2014
At the turn of November and December 2013, I took part at the annual Château Béla Central European Strategic Forum in Belá in Southern Slovakia. This conference brings together leading political and economic figures from the Central European region and beyond.
The conference was remarkable in allowing informal in-depth discussions on current political, economic and security issues. Traditional speaker-participant model was replaced by a model where all guests are direct participants in the debate. This year, focus was on the upcoming European Council on security and defence, transatlantic relations and NATO enlargement. The debates touched also upon the Vilnius Summit of the Eastern Partnership.
I was especially interested in conversations on the future of the European project, democracy and tackling voters’ apathy and political populism (with a focus on Slovakia and Central Europe).
My own contribution was on the need to open up decision-making in the European Parliament by doing away with the mode of voting in the plenary, during which records of individual votes are not kept. I also mentioned the need to increase transparency in the deliberations of the European Council and different Council configurations because the current decision-making regime is too opaque, leaving open questions on how policies are decided by political leaders. I argued that ‘demons thrive in the dark’ and that we should fight anti-European populism by transparency.
Others pointed out ‘the stunning silence of politics’ vis-à-vis the current economic and social challenges in Europe. This vacuum leaves a space for populists who are then more than happy to fill it.
In addition, mainstream political parties are using communication channels that ‘come from the nineteenth century’ (not literally), such as rallies, newspapers, television and radio. Populists and extremists use different, modern, channels such as social media and messaging, to mobilise their supporters.
One discussion during the conference opened up several dilemmas in how to address the populist challenge.
1. Should mainstream politicians and administrators isolate or engage the populists?
Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation in which a newly elected right-wing populist with an anti-Roma agenda and a recent history of militant neo-fascism asks a European Commissioner for a meeting to discuss ‘the problem of the Roma people’. Should the Commissioner publicly meet with this person, or should the Commissioner refuse?
The argument in favour of the meeting is that the right-wing populist has elected by the people and therefore, has an unquestionable democratic mandate. The Commissioner is not supposed to discriminate in his meetings on the basis of politicians’ political persuasion. And isolating populists and extremists only helps their arguments that the European political elite is detached from the people.
The argument against meeting the right-wing populist is that the populist has demonstrated by his past actions that he is not ready for a dialogue. There are people you do not shake hands with.
2. Should we continue using ‘politically correct’ language in public discourse?
One argument is that political correctness is damaging for mainstream parties: These parties are afraid to describe and address some societal issues, such as the integration of immigrants or the Roma minority, for fear of offending these groups of population. Political correctness militates against a better understanding of the real policy agenda. Populist parties misuse this by breaking public taboos and offering simplistic solutions. We should therefore abandon the politically correct language and give societal problems, such as crime and the “lack of working ethic” within some minority communities their real name. Some centre-parties have actually succeeded, so the argument goes, in adopting populist language, while offering constructive solutions to public policy issues. This resulted in reducing the public support for the populists.
The counter-argument is that we should not abandon political correctness. Doing so would result in generalising about groups of people, such as Jews, immigrants, the rich people or poor people. Europe has had a bad historical experience with such generalisations and using the wrong language brings back the demons of fascism and communism. So, we should continue treating people as individuals, also in the way we speak about public concerns of the day. In addition, how far can we go in emulating the populist rhetoric without also becoming populists?
3. Should we abandon hope when it comes to the integration of the Roma people?
Despite living in Europe for centuries, the Roma are often not well integrated into the majority society in European countries. Populists exploit these problems, offering easy solutions to issues which the existing institutions have not be able to address.
One argument states that government policies are not working. Through their own fault, the Roma are living lives of poverty and crime. Governments have reached a point of ‘no return’. Integration will continue to be more and more difficult. The populists will be able continue spreading their messages of hate and intolerance.
The counter-argument is that a surprising number of private and public policies actually work. They include encouraging entrepreneurship by micro-credits. Companies and public institutions in Slovakia and elsewhere are succeeding in employing Roma workforce. Some schools are very successful in educating Roma children. Governments have made surprisingly little effort concerning Roma integration and from what has been tried, a surprisingly high number of policies, both in the public and the private sectors, are working. If we learn from these good examples, we have a realistic chance of addressing the issues, thus taking wind out of sales of populists.
These dilemmas are far too big to be resolved at any single conference. However, I was glad to participate in the Château Béla discussions, which provided useful avenues of enquiry and argumentation.Vít Novotný Elections EU Member States Integration Populism Society
Populism: how should mainstream politics respond?
06 Dec 2013
Much vigorous debate, as well as some initial steps in response to the eurozone crisis, have established some groundwork for a more integrated economic and monetary union. But much less discussion has been devoted to how to redesign European-level political institutions, despite widespread recognition that a political reset is the other side of the coin. Aided by the widespread perception of a “democracy gap” at the European level, Eurosceptics are using this vagueness to spread uncertainty and doubt that is undermining the European project. It’s time to put some meat on the bones of what a functioning continental democracy could look like.
The eurozone crisis has stretched the European Union’s governance capacities to its limits. That’s because the E.U.’s current political institutions are those of a loose confederation of member states — but a loose confederation is inadequate for maintaining a monetary union. Yet several key E.U. member states are tenaciously resistant to the type of federalizing of power that a monetary union requires and other member states desire, so a proposal for redesigning European-level political institutions must be predicated on the reality of a “two speed Europe.”
This proposal outlines a two-tiered structure of: 1) a more federalized and integrated eurozone, and 2) maintaining a more decentralized – but also more streamlined — structure for the European Union, with these two structures co-linked in sensible ways.
A New Structure for Political Europe
As a starting point, Europe can learn something from the political and economic structures that a young America originally designed at the federal level, and how they evolved over two centuries. Granted, the American example is more of an inspiration than a blueprint, due to historical and cultural differences. But nevertheless the U.S. is a successful and longstanding monetary and political union spread over a vast geographic area, and lessons can be learned.
Initially America empowered member states’ legislatures as well as individual voters, both because each member state was sufficiently diverse to have legitimate state-based interests, but also because they needed buy-in from the political elites of each member state (and many political elites, like George Washington, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, truly didn’t trust the average voter, much less than European elites today). So while voters directly elected the federal House of Representatives, the member states’ legislatures were given the mandate to elect the powerful upper chamber of the Senate, as well as to elect presidential electors that chose the national president. For the next century after the first government in 1789, both the member states and the elites played a significant role in selecting the political leadership of the federal government. But eventually America amended its constitutional structures to empower individual voters over the state legislatures (both with popular direct election of U.S. Senators, and with state legislatures agreeing to abide by each state’s popular vote in selecting presidential electors.
So in drafting a more federalized political structure for the eurozone, it would be wise if both a direct popular vote as well as member states’ legislatures were empowered initially in a parliament. German statesman Joschka Fischer and others have proposed a similar design. How would this look in practice?
A more democratic eurozone governance would have a parliament with two chambers, one directly elected (like the current European Parliament) by voters using a system of proportional representation, with the number of representatives per member state a close reflection of each state’s population (so the more populous member states would have more representatives). The second chamber would be selected by member state legislatures (as the European Council and Council of Ministers sort of are now), with the number of representatives being mostly proportional to the population of each member state, but with a few additional representatives granted to the low population states so that they are not easily overrun by more populous member states. It also would be wise to establish a process for amendment that would allow the second chamber to evolve over time into direct popular election as a pan-European political consciousness and culture takes root.
The lower chamber of this eurozone legislature would then select a prime minister, who would in turn nominate her or his government cabinet, with one cabinet member each from a eurozone member state (similar to the current selection process for the Commission), to be approved by the upper legislative chamber. In addition, a largely ceremonial post of president of Europe would be directly elected on a continent-wide basis (similar to what various leaders such as Guy Verhofstadt, Wolfgang Schäuble, Tony Blair, and Radosław Sikorski have expressed support for). At some point down the road, this directly elected president could be invested with more power via the amendment process if that better matched the zeitgeist.
This kind of streamlined structure – a two chamber parliament that provides direct representation to voters as well as to eurozone states, and empowers an executive branch selected by both types of representatives, as well as a directly-elected figurehead – would do much to simplify continental governance for eurozone citizens, as well as to clarify lines of authority, make decision-making more efficient and transparent, and better connect the public with their continental government.
The Reality of Two-Speed Europe
The likeliest scenario is that the eurozone’s 17 (or so) member core will be the entity that adopts this sort of federalized structure, as the momentum of monetary union drives the need for a more cohesive and effective political union. This entity would have its own common laws, political institutions, budgetary agreements, banking union and tax policies. The eurozone states would have merged their political economies and bound their destinies together in a way that is irreversible.
This new eurozone-based entity would co-exist with a more loosely confederated European Union, composed of the current 27 (soon to be 28) member states. The EU could retain its present governance (albeit with some streamlining recommended below), and retain its degree of confederation but operate under much less pressure to integrate more than its disparate members are willing. And those who want to use the euro currency would be able to forge ahead not only with a fiscal and monetary union but also with the political institutions that are necessary to properly regulate a monetary union and to maintain democratic legitimacy.
Just as important, this two-tiered structure should be constructed so there is the possibility of individual member states moving from the non-euro EU into the eurozone when it made sense.
There are historical precedents for such a two-tiered, inside-outside arrangement, such as the 54-nation British Commonwealth (now known as the Commonwealth of Nations), or even the current United Kingdom, where there is a core Great Britain and other “members” (like Northern Ireland and some islands) that are more loosely confederated.
Note that this design has to do with the STRUCTURE of government, and less to do with the function and specific powers attached to each player within this structure, which requires a separate but parallel conversation too long for this short article. But as we have seen again and again during this eurozone crisis, in which inadequate E.U. structures have made decision-making excruciating and prolonged the crisis, function in many ways follows from form. So it’s important to get the structure right.
The E.U. also could use some streamlining. Without going into great detail in this short article, there are several institutions and practices that are ripe for a redesign. On a basic level, the E.U. should employ more originality for naming its offices and institutions. Currently the terms “president” and “council” are much overused, with a European Council and a Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers, or simply “the Council”). Outside the E.U. there is the Council of Europe. All of them have their own president, as does the European Commission and the European Parliament. With names so similar, few but the most ardent Europhile can tell them apart. The E.U. also is governed by an odd form of tricameralism (or even quad-cameralism) between the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council of Ministers. That’s too many branches, even for a decentralized confederacy. And the Commission being both the executive and the branch that proposes legislation fosters additional confusion and a loss of checks and balances.
Europeans have passed only the first few bends in the road of a years-long journey to overhaul their key economic and political institutions. It is important to understand that, just like a young America in its “Articles of Confederation stage” prior to its first government in 1789 – which had neither a common currency nor federalized institutions — Europe today is entangled by many contradictions and tensions as it tries to fashion its union and decide how integrated it wants to be. The integration process took decades for Americans to sort out (see http://ces.tc/14sJ6L3 for more details ); indeed, those “united” states fought a civil war over not just slavery but states’ rights and member states’ sovereignty, a full 70 years after its founding. The road toward union is a long and winding one because it takes time for people, cultures and laws to adapt. Europe is a “work in progress,” and it may require a change of a generation or two for a new identity and institutions to form and take root.
Clearly this is a big step, yet at this point it’s also clear that the demands of a monetary union require it. Either that, or abandon the euro. There appear to be no other options. And given the economic rise of population behemoths like China and India that are increasingly assertive in international markets, globalized forces will continue to put great pressure on Europe’s much smaller member states to band together or become less relevant and secure.
This essay is meant to inspire discussion and debate, not to be the final word on a very complex subject. Isn’t it time for European leaders to put forward some specific proposals and ideas about Political Europe, and push that conversation forward? Sometimes the best way to instigate debate is to provide something very concrete and simplified that people can react to. Doing so might give the public more ease over this integration process, if people could see a vision for the future, and get used to the idea of a more federalized eurozone alongside a loosely confederated E.U.
Political Europe: A Blueprint to Close the “Democracy Gap”
20 Jun 2013
The European Council reached a political agreement on key elements of the European Union’s budget for the period 2014-2020 (multi-annual financial framework) at its meeting on 7th -8th February 2013. However, the formal, legally binding agreement has to be jointly reached by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, for which the General Affairs Council has the lead. The Lisbon Treaty requires that the position of the Parliament is to be taken into account in this process.
From an EPP perspective, it is important that the budget of the European Union is more than the sum of diverging national interests. It shall serve the wider European interest. The budget shall give the Union the financial means to fulfill its tasks and obligations, and finance its main policies in a future oriented manner.
The European Parliament adopts its formal position for the start of the negotiations in a Resolution on 13th March. The Council will adopt its position at the next meeting of the General Affairs Council on 23rd April 2013.
The European Parliament has made it very clear that the outcome of the European Council is not to be seen as the final agreement on the Union’s budget for the next 7 years and it cannot be imposed upon the Parliament. The political agreement of the European Council is, therefore, the starting point, not the ending point of this inter-institutional process. Due to the fact that it is the first time that the Lisbon Treaty applies to the seven-year EU budget, the role played by the Parliament in this process will serve as a precedent for all future EU budget talks. It is because of this that the Parliament is expected to have a particularly firm position.
The main demands of the Parliament towards the Council are: flexibility in the implementation of the budget; a compulsory and comprehensive revision of the budget during its implementation; and an agreement on own resources, as a source of revenue for the EU budget. A wide majority of the Parliament supports these claims. Several Member States have also indicated sympathy for these demands and the Council’s negotiation mandate might contain some space of maneuver to meet these Parliament’s requirements. These points proposed by the Parliament are valuable points, and are worth including into the final agreement, so that the final budget assures that the Union meets its tasks, while the sensitivities of individual Member States are also taken into account.
For the future, in order to avoid the escalation of conflicts on the EU budget, which also go against the wider European interest, a particular attention needs to be given to an EU budget built on own resources. This is also the spirit of the EU Treaties, which foresee EU own resources as the source of financing for the European budget. At this stage, each opposition leader in the Union’s 27 Member States tries to politically exploit at national level the negotiations on the EU budget. This puts extreme pressure on each EU Head of State or Government to secure national interests as a matter of priority. Any compromise reached by the European Council is subsequently exploited by opposition parties, often in a populist way, and presented as against the interest of the respective Member State. This leads to 27 divided national debates on a European topic. This is not in the interest of the Union. Pro-European forces should unite to explore opportunities for an EU budget built on own resources.Siegfried Mureşan Economy EU Institutions EU Member States Integration
The future negotiations on the EU budget: what to expect?
12 Mar 2013
Over the past 17 years, the EU institutions have been issuing non-binding guidance documents on conceptualising immigrant integration. An analysis of the successive iterations of these guidance documents reveals both continuity and change. During this period, the Commission and the Council have attached different meanings to the concept of a two-way process of interaction between the host society and the newcomers. In documents issued in 2004–5, the two-way process contained the requirement for both immigrants and citizens of the receiving country to accommodate each other. Following shifts in public opinion and disquiet about problems with migrant integration in the 2010s, the European Commission adjusted its guidance. In a definition formulated in 2020, ‘mutual accommodation’ gave way to an emphasis on the adaptation of migrants to the receiving society and the obligation of the host country to help migrants integrate into the mainstream culture. In the current parliamentary term (2019–present), the von der Leyen Commission has promoted the overarching concept of ‘Our European Way of Life’ to accompany the new understanding of the two-way process of migrant integration. This concept is anchored in the EU’s secular values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, and bears a strong resemblance to the European Leitkultur, or ‘guiding culture’, of respect for the constitution and the values of the Enlightenment, as coined by the author Bassam Tibi in 1998.Integration Migration Values
‘Our European Way of Life’ as the Guiding Principle: Shifts in the Understanding of Immigrant Integration at the EU Level
16 Nov 2022
As the debate on European sovereignty has gained traction in recent years, Europe’s centre-right should develop its own distinct vision of European sovereignty, one that reflects its own priorities and values.
This policy brief aims to develop a tentative theoretical and historical framework that can be used to work out what this conservative and Christian Democratic vision could look like. It argues that it is important for the centre-right to ensure that its vision stands apart from those of both the nationalist populists on its right and social-liberals on its left. Against populists the centre-right needs to show that conservatism and European integration can be compatible. As the historical overview in the paper shows, conservatives throughout history have supported processes of political and economic centralisation as long as these have taken place in piecemeal fashion and the resulting institutions have reproduced in their conduct and outlook the values conservatives stand for. Against the centralisers on the centre-left, who are currently monopolising the slogan ‘more Europe’, the centre-right must articulate more clearly how its own understanding of EU integration is a more pragmatic, effective and viable way forward. Contrary to progressives, who view European and international institutions as instruments of ideologically-driven social change, European conservatives see institutions as expressions and safeguards both of diversity inside the EU and of the distinctly European imprint on world politics externally.
The paper offers a first outline of how a conservative perspective on EU sovereignty could be applied to a range of policy areas, from foreign policy to economic governance to migration.Centre-Right EU Institutions EU Member States Future of Europe Integration
Towards a Sovereign Europe – A Centre-Right Approach
09 Jul 2020
In the current debates about Islam, scarce attention is devoted to the long-term integration of different cultures within a system based on the rule of law and individual liberties. With specific reference to the prevalent culture among Muslims of immigrant descent in Western Europe, quantitative surveys and reports show the persistence of a divergence from mainstream views on topics such as gender equality, religious freedom and sexual orientation. The primary victims of this phenomenon are to be found within the Muslim communities themselves: the ‘outcasts’ who, in spite of their Muslim background, do not adhere to the prevalent cultural code and may become targets of hostility. The lack of adequate integration policies for newcomers and the absence of socio-cultural interconnections between many Muslims and the native European populations deepen the divide, thereby reinforcing the Islamic identity at the expense of the national one, and fostering prejudice on both sides.
To promote liberal democratic rules and values both among newcomers and within the wider society, integration policies should be adopted in the framework of school curricula, reception centres and integration courses. These measures should always be tailored to individuals, rather than the ethno-religious groups to which they belong. It is also paramount to bring together, as much as possible, people of different backgrounds and ethnicities, in order to foster intercultural exchanges. All this would not lead to a levelling, monocultural model, but a pluricultural one focused on individuals and their chosen identity. All cultures or traditions are to be accepted and embraced, as long as they respect the rule of law and individual liberties.Integration Religion Social Policy Values
Lifting the Integration Veil: Outcasts from Islam in Western Europe
06 Mar 2020
The ‘known known’ in the basket of uncertainties that is Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is the intention of the Commission’s negotiating team to maintain the integrity of the four freedoms. On the British side the objective is to enjoy some of the benefits accruing from its EU membership, whilst at the same time seeking to fulfil the democratic mandate to leave the EU conferred by the referendum verdict.
In large part the withdrawal negotiations that ensued after the British Government invoked Article 50 have been a contest between these quite different, indeed conflicting, mandates. Both sides, each from its own standpoint, have offered quite different solutions to the conundrum of the Irish border. With Brexit day fast approaching, this singular issue has become a proxy for the altogether wider question of future EU–UK relations.
At the time of writing, the entire sweep of these tense negotiations is concentrated on resolving the ‘Irish Question’—without success until finally a ‘technical’ agreement’ was reached by the negotiators. Whether this ‘solution’ will survive resistance from arch-Brexiteers remains to be seen.Brexit EU Member States European Union Integration Leadership
Brexit and the Irish question, Part Three: Solving the Border Conundrum?
14 Nov 2018
This paper aims to provide a critical analysis of the federalist doctrines that influenced the development of European integration. It argues that four federalist visions emerged at the dawn of European integration, each with its own specific ideological background and its own idea of what the federal Europe of the future should look like. The progressive federalism of Altriero Spinelli was different from the technocratic federalism of Jean Monnet, as much as the liberal federalism of Luigi Einaudi diverged from the personalist federalism of Christian Democrats.
The paper also contends that the two federalist philosophies most influential throughout European integration—those of Spinelli and Monnet— are founded on a unitary view of sovereignty and care little about protecting and retaining local state identities. On the contrary, within the Christian Democratic tradition there developed a bottom-up, culturally rooted federalism that was mindful of national and regional autonomy and averse to the concept of absolute sovereignty, be it national or European. Today, it is from this tradition that we should draw inspiration to redesign a more legitimate EU.EU Institutions EU Member States European Union Future of Europe Integration Leadership
The Four ‘Classical Federalisms’
Future of Europe
22 Oct 2018
This paper reflects on the notion of differentiated integration in the context of the future of Europe. It argues that differentiation is only acceptable as an instrument of ‘unity in diversity’ and within strict limits. All forms of differentiation that risk fragmenting the Union and its institutional framework should be excluded. In the field of external policies existing treaties and the recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice allow the Union to speak with one voice and to privilege unity over differentiation.
As far as internal EU divides are concerned– from divisions over migration to those involving the rise of regional groups of countries—they are all transient and changeable and are not relevant subjects for differentiation. Finally, attempts to redefine the euro area as the new ‘hard core’ of European integration should be rejected, as they can only lead to the disintegration of the European project. Out of all the available legal techniques of differentiation, enhanced cooperation carries the lowest risk.EU Institutions European Union Future of Europe Integration Leadership
Differentiation, not Disintegration
Future of Europe
15 May 2018
Just as it did seventy years ago, European integration today has four strategic objectives: peace, security, prosperity and identity. However, ‘mainstream Europeanism’—the current European consensus—seems increasingly incapable of providing the right vision for a successful continuation of the European project.
To meet the present challenges of European integration and secure unity across the continent, we should develop a new Europeanism that promotes stronger integration in defence, foreign policy and border control, while putting greater emphasis on decentralisation, national autonomy, economic reforms and cultural traditions.
This would put into practice the EU’s motto ‘Unity in diversity’ and give precise content to the ideal of an EU that is ‘big on big things and small on small things’.Centre-Right EU Institutions European Union Euroscepticism Future of Europe Integration
For a New Europeanism
Future of Europe
06 Jun 2017
While conservatives frequently offer trenchant criticisms of the European Union (EU), they are short on constructive suggestions about how the European project should be reformed. The tradition of international federalism, which exists in free-market thought, can be a source of such a reform agenda.
Understood properly, a federalization of the EU does not mean an unqualified transfer of powers to European institutions. Instead, federalism provides a framework through assigning authority to different levels of government.
In practice, that would mean strengthening the EU in a limited number of areas to provide essential Europe-wide services—foreign policy and defense, economic governance within the eurozone and the single market, and border protection and asylum policy—while repatriating a long list of powers back to member states.
A federalist approach thus offers substantial promise in addressing the EU’s central policy challenges and relieving the tensions brought about by the block’s protracted crises. Conservatives and classical liberals should embrace international federalism as a way to constrain the power and size of government. That could provide a new focal point for a reinvigoration of centre-right political platforms across Europe.
This publication was originally published on the American Enterprise Institute wesbsite.Centre-Right EU Institutions European Union Future of Europe Integration
The Case for a Federal Europe
01 May 2017
The year 2017 will mark the sixty-year anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. On this occasion, the European project will receive a thorough check-up, and important decisions will be made that will decide whether and in what form it survives.
In this context, it is crucial to recognise the long-overlooked contest between two competing visions of European federalism, propounded by two great figures of Europe’s twentieth century: Altiero Spinelli and Friedrich Hayek.
The recent past tells the story of a revolt against European integration that is taking dangerously big dimensions and demands urgent countermeasures.
Honest pro-Europeans should admit that some sort of Hayekian federalism is the only federalism with some chances of success in our continent.
This briefing was originally published on the European Policy Information Center (EPICENTER) website.EU Institutions EU Member States European Union Integration Values
The past and future of European federalism: Spinelli vs. Hayek
10 Apr 2017
The current refugee crisis is primarily one of collective action between the EU’s national governments. This In Focus argues that without cooperation between the EU states, the situation is not going to improve.
Among the EU institutions, the Council, that brings together the heads of state and government, plays the decisive role in showing direction and facilitating agreement. As for specific policies, the EU’s dysfunctional asylum system, which is based on 28 national systems, needs to be reformed, including by allowing asylum applications in the countries of origin.
Member states need to start supplying Frontex, the EU’s external border agency, with personnel and equipment so that the border can be better protected. Turkey, which hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees, is the EU’s main partner in the Middle East.
The EU also needs a new deal between host countries and newcomers on the refugees’ integration into European societies. One side of this deal is for European governments and societies to demand that newcomers respect basic values, such as freedom of speech, equality between men and women and individual liberty. The other side of the deal is that those who are granted asylum are given opportunities in employment and civic and political life.EU Member States European Union Integration Migration
The Refugee Crisis: Towards better cooperation between Europe’s national governments
16 Oct 2015
The failure of multiculturalism has been declared by many. Yet few have come up with alternatives to how Europe’s ethnic and religious groups can co-exist in our liberal democracies. This InFocus argues that Europe can benefit from the genuine desire that many immigrants have, to identify with the constitutions of their new home countries while maintaining elements of their own culture.
European and national policymakers should elaborate on the existing concept of multiculturalism, and they could learn from the US and Canadian approaches to integration. Europe’s centre-right political parties have a particular role not only in opening politics to immigrants and their descendants but also in forging strong national and European allegiances that are compatible with group belonging.
The jihadist terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen in early 2015 starkly reminded us that not all is well with the integration of Muslims into European societies. Paradoxically, the public demonstrations in France that followed the attacks injected a degree of optimism into European public life. These moving and encouraging public displays demonstrated beyond doubt that France continues to be a country of liberty. The 3.7 million people who were on the streets also proved, in their support for tolerance and freedom of speech, that liberal democracy is not dead.
Nevertheless, if anyone still had doubts, European liberal democracy is facing a number of external and internal tests. Among them are dealing with group identities and with jihadist terrorism, as these identities’ extreme manifestation. Positively dealing with group belonging is a precondition to tackling the wider challenge, to create a sense of common purpose at the difficult times that Europe is experiencing.
IN FOCUS is a new series of commentaries in which the Martens Centre looks closely at current policy topics, dissects the available evidence and challenges prevailing opinions.Centre-Right Immigration Integration Society Values
Politics of Identity: What Next after Multiculturalism
26 May 2015
The euro is one of the most important projects that the European partners have committed to since the foundation of the European Union. The common currency is a symbol for European integration. It gives Europe a unique opportunity to have a global voice. The global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis gave us a clear lesson: structural problems in individual member states can cause severe economic repercussions across the EU.
However, the crisis in the eurozone is not a crisis of the euro itself. It is a sovereign debt crisis, a banking crisis and a competitiveness crisis combined. The roots of which lie in a series of inter-related issues starting with unsustainable fiscal policies all over Europe, lack of economic reforms and inadequate regulation of financial and labour markets. These were weaknesses which magnified the consequences of the global financial crisis that started in 2008.
This leaflet offers an overview of how the euro has transformed the European integration process and the lives of many Europeans since its introduction in 1999. The European member states share rights and duties, opportunities and risks. Each member state has to make its own contribution to the ongoing recovery process. If we succeed in this, the euro offers more opportunities than risks.Economy Eurozone Integration Macroeconomics
The Euro: Basics, Arguments, Perspectives
12 Mar 2014
Improving the political integration of immigrants is an important task for the European Union. The number of people with an immigrant background in the EU is gradually rising, a trend that is expected to continue. As a result, immigrants and their descendants are likely to play an increasingly significant role in the political life of Member States, as well as at the European level. Nevertheless, political parties in the EU seem to have neglected this phenomenon. Immigrants from third countries and their descendants rarely appear as party members; party leaders at the local, regional, national and EU levels; or as paid officials or candidates. Political parties should therefore consider more carefully the political potential of immigrants and their descendants.Immigration Integration Migration Political Parties
Migrating towards Participation: Immigrants and their Descendants in the Political Process
01 Nov 2012
The book presents results of a collaborative study conducted by a team of authors from different Belarusian think tanks, as well as experts from Germany who are familiar with the problems associated with EU integration and enlargement. The study aims at analyzing the status of Belarus’ governmental, economic, social and legal situation, vital information in order to identify the measures which will be necessary for the country to reform and for its structures to become more compatible with the European Union. The path towards more democracy and freedom passes through a greater cooperation with the European Union. At the same time, the study suggests that closer ties with Europe will make wide-ranging political, economic, social and legal reform in today’s Belarus absolutely essential.Enlargment Integration Neighbourhood Policy
Belarus and the EU: from Isolation towards Cooperation
07 Nov 2011
The European People’s Party, the largest political party in Europe, has roots that run deep in history. Founded in 1976 as a Christian Democratic federation, the European People’s Party is now a strong centre-right movement and a leading European political family. It has member parties in almost all European countries, and it is very well represented in the institutions of the European Union.
This book tells the story of the European People’s Party: why it was founded, how it is currently organised and what its guiding ideas, values and principles are. It gives an up-to-date account of the party’s contribution to European integration, its work with its member parties and its central role in organising the centre-right in Europe. Above all, this book is for everyone who wants to know what a European-level political party looks like, how it is structured and how it acts.Centre-Right Christian Democracy European People's Party Integration Values
At Europe’s Service: The Origins and Evolution of the European People’s Party
04 Apr 2011
European integration is continuously a topic that needs attention. Although in different opinion polls Estonian people do appear EU friendly, it is not clear if, and to what extent they actually relate Estonia as a state and themselves as individuals to Europe and to different European processes. Therefore the Pro Patria Training Centre with the support of the Centre for European Studies (CES) and in co-operation with research partners conducted a research project using both quantitative and qualitative research methods to thoroughly understand public opinion and anticipation towards European integration.European Union Integration
European Union and Public Opinion in Estonia
01 Dec 2010
European views on Turkey’s membership in the EU have been split between those in support of its full integration and those advocating a privileged partnership. To the extent that many of the latter proposals imply that Turkey will be partially integrated within Europe in certain areas, the question of Turkey’s accession is probably not about ‘if’, but about ‘how much’ integration there will be within the Union’s structures. The purpose of this book is not to offer a definitive response to this question. The book aims instead to examine the complexity of the issues pertaining to Turkey’s prospective EU membership by presenting several, often divergent, accounts of the political, security and socio-economic dimensions of the entire process. The book provides a forum for an exchange of views among distinguished scholars and researchers from different national backgrounds in order to contribute to the ongoing public discussion of Turkey’s accession.Enlargment European Union Foreign Policy Integration Security
Turkey’s Accession to the European Union: An Unusual Candidacy
05 Jan 2009