EU against terrorism

This week, the heart of Europe has been struck by the terrible terrorist attacks in Bruxelles. Tariq Ramadan, on, provides a comprehensive and sharp analysis of the attacks by tackling the question concerning how it is possible to explain such violent extremism. He answers this question by recognizing that terrorism is not just “mad”, “irrational”, and “inhuman”, and if we are to comprehend the reasons behind such phenomenon, we should understand that we cannot disconnect these outrageous and violent events from the EU and US foreign policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. Terrorists and commanders’ attempt to provoke fractures in Western societies between Muslims and the other citizens must be stopped now. Indeed, as Stratfor notes on EurActiv, the attacks undermine the ideals of the Union, by threating EU’s freedom of movement, the values of integration and tolerance, and European economies. In the end, the problem – Michael E. Smith writes on EuObserver – is that there exists a deep disagreement among EU member states about the future of the Union and the institutional structures required to maintain its security and prosperity. However, Europe could take some measures against terrorism right now. As Judy Dempsey argues on Carnegie Europe, it would be possible to improve security by requiring member states to share intelligence and information and to enhance public security, though this may pose restrictions on citizens’ freedom. However, the biggest issue remains the capacity of EU’s governments to deal with migration and integration. This point is shared also by The Editorial Board of the New York Times, who argues that the EU must start by building relations of trust with the majority of Muslim citizens who live in Europe and reject terrorism.

Dealing with the refugee crises

In the face of the refugee crisis, two approaches can be embraced. On one hand, it is possible to retain an idealistic point of view; on the other hand, it is possible to argue for a realistic perspective. The first standpoint is passionately represented by Nils Muižnieks on OpenDemocracy, where she argues that, although the EU-Turkey deal has some positive features, it is not efficacious enough. Indeed, its legal safeguards should apply not only to Syrians, but to all people reaching the EU; the Union should provide urgent help to Greece; EU search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean should be improved; political leaders and opinion makers should contrast the public anxiety about migration and asylum from a principled standpoint. In this sense, the refugee crisis should be resolved because justice requires it. On the other hand, from a realist point of view, Natalie Nougayrède, on the Guardian, writes that the refugee crisis represents one of Europe’s existential challenges, for if the EU will prove not to be capable of dealing with it, this will turn into the end of the European project. So, solving the refugee crisis is a political necessity to send a signal to EU citizens and, thus, to secure the EU from disintegration. On a different note, Ruma Mandal, on Chatham House, claims not only that the EU-Turkey statement may be very difficult to apply in practice, but also that it may have a negative impact on international solidarity because of its emphasis on the removal of refugees to a country already struggling with a numerous refugee population.

The road to Brexit

With the referendum approaching, it is vital to understand whether it would be a good thing for the UK to remain in the EU. From the British perspective, it is important to understand that Brexit will cost. As Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano, Thomas Sampson and John Van Reenen show on EUROPP, if the UK will leave the EU, there will be a fall in national income of either 1.3 per cent or 2.6 per cent. Moreover, when dynamic effects of higher trade costs on productivity are included, things change and Brexit will have much deeper and negative consequences. However, it is not only a matter of income and productivity. As Will Hutton argues on the Guardian, remaining in the Union is crucial to protect workers’ rights. Furthermore, Brexit may stress the NHS. Indeed, for Jeremy Hunt, on the Guardian, the economic uncertainty derived from Brexit will have a negative impact on the health service, which will have less money to take care of British people. On the other hand, from the point of view of the rest of Europe, Brexit should be disfavoured. As Javier Solana writes on Social Europe, a vote to leave the Union would have terrible consequences not only in economic terms, but also for security, foreign policy, and international standing on both parts. Moreover, Brexit would question European integration and weaken solidarity among member states. But if Brexit is to be avoided, all political actors are to get involved. In particular, as Philip Collins argues on The Times, the Labour party needs to work with the Tories to convince British citizens of the importance of staying in the EU.

This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli

Photo Credits CC: Valentina Calà

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