A Case of Great Expectations

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Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. — Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950

I am sure that it is to no one’s surprise that BREXIT has inevitably had a huge impact on Union dynamics. The majority of MEPs are at Britain’s throat for opting out of membership with the EU and still wanting access to the single-market on their own terms— but this should be a fact by now. Moreover, anti-EU sentiment on Capitol Hill has not helped the situation at all.

While the 12 Stars of Harmony blundered across the continent in a wild frenzy of confusion and anti-immigration sentiment, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was busy drafting up white-papers. Or, ‘White-Book’, as many have put it. A document on Europe’s post-BREXIT future has been released to the public. And, in accordance with POLITICO’s latest article about it, there are five major scenarios;

1. Carrying on

This assumes that smooth-sailing of the Union policies will be ensured by economic overhauls; a deepening of the single-market has been proposed along with the pooling of resources and capital for military expenditure. In other words, the Common Foreign Defence and Security Policy will have to be further amended (or completely overthrown). Border controls, as has been the norm, will be up to the national governments.

This begs a question — what of the Schengen Agreement? And, from a legal perspective, provisions in the Treaty of Lisbon (TFEU) have to be revised.

2. Nothing but the Single-Market

Not favoured by the Commission, it has nevertheless been proposed that heavy emphasis on the Single-Market should be put forward. Drafting of policy and “acting collectively”, according to Commissioners, are distinct motions. This scenario is not optimal for economic aspects, especially in terms of the Eurozone. A heightened threat towards the euro will not just make Member States more vulnerable to economic crises — if fervid focus is to be placed upon the Single-Market, the failure to establish the eurozone’s economic governance would condemn the Union. Moreover, companies would be susceptible to stricter border checks, and this in itself, would prove trading waters unideal.

3. Those who want more do more

The CFDSP is under-attack again. This scenario, however, calls for Union wide coalition. Apart from defence and internal security, matters such as taxation and social issues are also considered. The Commission, here, assumes that all member states are to make an orchestrated effort to deepen the Single-Market. In relation to Scenario 2, the Commission remains adamant. Concerns about a differentiation in citizen’s rights have been raised. Even with this scenario, the Commission is not certain that complete eurozone governance will come into fruition. Nonetheless, aspects such as a unified legal business code and individual national advancements in militarisation are possible.

4. Doing less more efficiently

This proviso assumes the success of a well-established European Border and Coast Guard, as well as one authoritative voice on foreign policy and, of course, the creation of a European Defence Union. The Commission acknowledged the fact that other areas such as innovation, trade and security should be given priority. Research should also be aimed towards the bettering of modern progress, such as that of digitisation and decarbonisation of the economy. The elephant in the room is this; member states will inevitably have to decide amongst themselves on the areas they want to work on.

5. Doing much more together

The Union, in this scenario, is to speak for all member states on areas such as foreign-policy and trade. It would also assume environmental and humanitarian responsibilities, such as those of combatting climate change and ensuring fair treatment of individuals. Undeniably, Europe would develop quicker decision making tactics; problem solving becomes more efficient and citizens would stop looking at the European Institutions as redundant. However, this scenario nevertheless assumes total power of international relations. It would, of course, be a step towards a more federalised Europe. Back in 2004, the attempt to draft up one sole constitution for all member states was made. It was of course never ratified. Juncker and the Commission continue to assume that member states, despite the rise of the far-right parties and in turn, their vigorous following, would be readily willing to conform to one single ‘code for a federal EU’.

There is much to be done in Europe to ensure unity amongst the EU-27. These white-papers, although a good attempt on behalf of the Commission, are idealistic. In my opinion, domestic social situations must be tackled above and beyond the economy and foreign policies. The Union will advance, no doubt, but it can only do so if it acknowledges the needs and concerns of its citizens.

Written by

Emma Sammut

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