The future of the EU

In an interview to EurActiv, Frans Timmermans, the First Vice-president of the European Commission, talks extensively about the current situation of the Union. Timmerman claims that for the first time in three decades he sees the Union in real danger. Timmermans argues that the decline of the middle class and the lack of social mobility created the conditions for the rise of populist parties. Moreover, the former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, argues that the European political class failed to educate its citizens, to the advantage of radical forces.

On Social Europe, Dimitris Papadimoulis, blasts the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. The Greek MEP argues that the SGP does not create the conditions for growth-oriented policies in EU Member States. Moreover he claims that deviation from the SGP is punished by the Commission only when it comes to deficit infractions. But what about the excessive trade surplus run by Germany, which harms the overall functioning equally? He finally calls for the implementation of more sustainable growth policies for EU member states.

On Brexit and Article 50

The UK High Court’s ruling against a unilateral activation of Article 50 by the British government is at the centre of many reflections across Europe. As right-wing media outlets across the UK blamed the High Court’s decision, Charles Falconer, writing for The Guardian, calls lord chancellor Liz Truz to defend the judicial institutions of the country. Falconer claims that the prospect of Brexit is not threatened by the ruling on Article 50. The latter only establishes that the UK needs to leave the EU in accordance with the country’s constitution. Still on The Guardian, Iain Martin claims that Theresa May should have done more to calm down waters: at the end of the day, renewing the independence of the country’s institution was the objective of the Brexit referendum.

On Ideas on Europe, Simon Usherwood argues that the decision of the High Court does not change anything but the process of Brexit. Usherwood warns that any attempt by the British Parliament to block the activation of Article 50 would play into the hands of populist forces. At the same time, he welcomes the capacity of MPs to monitor future negotiations between the government and the European Union. Stephen Booth, writing on Open Europe, claims in the first place that even if the MPs will ask the government to be informed on an ongoing basis about the negotiations, the Parliament has no control on the positions of the third party involved in the process, namely EU member states. He argues that, at the end of the day, the Parliament will face a “take it or leave it” choice. Second, Booth claims that if the activation of Article 50 were protracted, PM May could decide to call for early elections, in which case it would be very difficult for any MP to campaign against Brexit.

The Turkish problem

After the Turkish government shut down several media outlets last week, the position of the European Union with respect to the country is questioned by several authors. On openDemocracy, Bilge Yabanci and Kerem Oktem argue that the EU cannot accept what they define “a regime change to hyperpresidentialism”. More specifically, Yabanci and Oktem call for the EU to do more than just discouraging the AKP’s crackdown on freedom of expression. In the authors’ view, the EU has three main options to counter the illiberal tendencies of the Turkish government: it can use the economic trade card, suspend the negotiations over Turkey’s accession to the EU, or issue a Plan B that suspends the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

In another contribution for openDemocracy, Mehmet Ugur provides extensive historical evidence on the dictorial drift of Turkey over the last decade. However, Ugur asks why western governments did not raise a single question about these tendencies over the past years. Ugur claims that one cannot understand the development of Turkish politics without taking into consideration the larger geopolitical picture. In particular, Ugur argues that after the fall of the Soviet Union, the US and the EU appeased Turkey in return for the establishment of a unipolar geopolitical order, in which the country was granted a leading role in the Middle East. Consequently, the Turkish authoritarian drift can only be stopped if the western world gives up its unilateral take on global matters and accepts the reality of a multipolar system where other players, such as Russia and China, are allowed to play a leading role.


This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci


Photo Credits CC Mani Babbar Photography



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