Δευτέρα, 14 Μαρτίου 2016

The end of the European Union as we know it

The EU Summit held on Monday in Brussels proved that there is a long way to go for the member-states to start perceiving the EU as a supranational organization. The refugee crisis and the struggle of Greece and its allies in Europe to make clear, in every possible way, that being part of such an organization means having both rights and obligations, did not prevail.
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It has been already seven (7) months since the relocation program has been agreed between EU28, but so far implementation has been extremely weak. From 160.000 available places, only 400 refugees have been relocated, showing in the most striking way that EU has a big leadership and decision making problem. Greece has once again been on the spotlight, this time for literally geographical reasons.
As the entry point for refugees crossing the Aegean sea towards Europe, Greece has been blamed for not providing the best possible services in terms of accommodating and registering the refugees, for not creating in due time the so called "hotspots", for not properly allocating the financial assistance received from the EU. Nonetheless, the reality is completely different.

Since the beginning of 2015, the country has received more than 900.000 refugees,showing solidarity in an exemplary way, mobilizing locals and NGO's in the Aegean islands and having spent already more than 470 million euros in the midst of extremely tough financial circumstances. At the same time, technical and financial support by the EU has been ludicrous with a number of member-states and candidate member-states building fences, closing the boarders and making Greece's efforts to handle the massive refugee flows even harder. In this gloomy landscape the EU is not efficiently pressing Turkey to deal with smugglers' networks and control the refugee flows, lacking readiness to respond to one of the biggest challenges the European establishment has faced since WW2. Turkey is taking advantage of this reluctance asking for more financial support, asking for the opening of chapters of EU membership, pushing for visa liberalization in exchange for the promise to cooperate with the EU on the refugee front.

What we are witnessing these last months is the complete re-evaluation of the European project in a more realistic way. On one side, we have the EU that wants and shows solidarity and on the other side we have an EU of nationalism, racism and xenophobia. This is the new setting and where we should all gather our forces. We should no more take peace for granted as the situation we are being part of this year resembles a lot with the turbulent times of the late 1930s. 

by Herbert Schenker
Herbert Schenker is Policy Analyst at Bridging Europe
sourche: http://www.bridgingeurope.net/the-end-of-the-european-union-as-we-know-it.html

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