In eight months, Europeans will head to the polls and elect a new EU-parliament. Times are turbulent. Nationalist and populist movements across the continent aim to dismantle the European project; the US is turning its backs on the multilateral order, and Brexit still remains a unresolved puzzle of gigantic political, economic and social consequences?
Over the summer, I’ve been reading more about what’s going across the continent, wondering, where is Europe headed? Does anyone have a vision for a common future? To which degree are there common values that underpin a common European project?
May the following readings provide a valuable intro into a hot year of European politics (teasers below). European Crises
While a Brexit deal is supposed to be signed by the end of October, the UK keeps sliding towards the end of its EU membership without a clear strategy in sight. The New Yorker’s Sam Knight portrays Prime Minister Theresa May and her lonely quest to find a clear strategy after two years of tough negotiations and amidst political strife within her own party .
This summer, Steve Bannon’s attempt to rally European nationalist parties stirred a media frenzy. Political scientist Can Mudde argues that portraying Bannon as an evil mastermind who is poised to uproot European politics exaggerates his importance and ignores the fact that many citizens hold populist and nationalist views without the need for a seductive leader .
While Western Europe has been mostly busy keeping itself together, hundreds of thousands of Romanian citizens, many emigrants spending the summer back home, have taken to the streets to protest attempts by the government to weaken the judicial system and loosen anti-corruption measures. The government has responded violently. Claudia Ciobanu reports .
Meanwhile, the wounds of the past cast their shadows into the present. In Spain, where the shrine of former dictator Franco is poised to be removed and transformed into a “memorial for the victims of fascism”, re-surfacing past atrocities as Omar Incarnacion writes. .
Similarly, in Poland, a bitter fight is being waged over the fate of communist monuments and interpretations of Poland's history under Soviet rule . Matthew Luxmore reports.
Seeing the return of “arm-chair nationalists” in Poland and Europe, 93-year old survivor of the Holocaust and the Warsaw uprising, Stanislaw Aronson warns that Europe is poised to raise future generations in delusional self-righteousness ignorant of the complexity of the past and hence doomed to repeat the mistakes for which the continent’s people paid such a high price .
With Volt Europe, the first truly pan-European political party seems to be emerging; running on a European platform, aiming, amongst other things, at building a smart state, reviving the economy, reducing inequalities, and paving the way to a federal EU as one of its co-founders, Colombe Cahen-Salvador, writes in the Guardian-
Speaking of big plans: Professor Ulrike Guérot is convinced that it is time for the foundation of a European republic, whose sovereignty resides directly with the European citizens and not with national governments.
In an-op ed, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confronts Donald Trump’s isolationism head on. Haas makes a strong case for a united Europe on the international stage, pursuing the rule of the law in international affairs and committed to an inclusive multilateralism focused on collective global challenges.
Bruno Macaes argues that we should learn from former French President Charles De Gaulle and his ambition for France and Europe to be strong geopolitical actors, able to play the big games of power.
In response to parties, movements, and governments that try to turn their countries into illiberal democracies by dismantling checks and balances, Jan Chromiec and Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz call the EU to establish a European Values Instrument that would fund civil society organisations promoting fundamental values, democracy and the rule of law.
The out-going Economist reporter in Brussels, Tom Nuttal, argues that the EU has to install a common sense of purpose if it wants to survive - drawing parallels between todays anti-EU movements with the centrifugal forces that brought the disintegration of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.