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What's Next For Europe?

June 5, 2017

 

This Sunday, at a campaign event in Bavaria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel shocked

the geopolitical world by stating that Europe could no longer rely on the United States, United

Kingdom, or Russia, and that “Europe will have to chart its own destiny.” This remark was,

allegedly, a response to President Trump’s intransigence in regards to the Paris climate

agreement. Of course, this speech raises many questions. How can the EU convince its

constituent nations to stay as members? And what destiny will Europe set for itself?

Of course, the immediate danger for the EU is the fact that many of its nations wish to

leave it. Eurosceptic parties play a major role in many of the EUs member nations. The only

way forward to the EU is to democratize. Right now, the EU is largely controlled by unelected

bureaucrats, with the European Parliament little more than a shell body. This will have to

change. The European Parliament must be strengthened, and the various bureaucracies held

accountable by voters. Furthermore, the EU will have to back out of the brutal austerity it has

levied on Greece. The EU will have to meet the needs of all of its member nations if it wants to

transform into a global body. Angela Merkel has the political capital to transform the EU into a

democratic body, and she will need to if she wants it to survive and thrive as a global force. If

she fails to do this, her dreams of a strong, independent Europe will fail within a decade. Of

course, Merkel will also to deal with the creep towards authoritarianism of many EU members,

most notably Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. It will remain a formidable challenge for Merkel to stop

these disturbing trends, but a crucial one if a coherent EU is even a possibility. Of course, the

role of nations, and the ability to secede, as many parts of Spain and Belgium with to, within the

EU will also be in question. The EU will need serious restructuring to be viable as a geopolitical

power.

 

Furthermore, the question of what vision Merkel has for Europe remains. It is clear that

such a vision will entail Europe being a vanguard of progressive climate policy, given that it is

President Trump’s reluctance to stick with the Paris agreement that spurred this speech from

Merkel, but serious questions remain on how the EU will work with its neighbors. Obviously,

Merkel is no fan of Putin’s Russia, but the EU and Russia will have to come to some sort of

détente. Europe in general cannot survive without strong relations with the US and Russia, and

will furthermore have to worry about how to avoid being used as the puppet of one against the

other. In short, Europe will face serious challenges to be a single, coherent, strong political

entity, and Chancellor Merkel will have to deal with serious issues in attempting to make it into

one. If she succeeds, it will be a tremendous accomplishment, but her failure could be a

disaster for Europe.

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