Thursday, December 12, 2019, 17:38 (GMT+7)

Monday, September 30, 2019, 06:59 (GMT+7)
New political upheavals in the Europe

In 2019, the European Union (EU) held elections that would play a decisive role in this bloc’s future when the regional and global politics were experiencing major, complex transformations. Those included the election to the European Parliament and the elections of key positions, such as European Commission (EC) President, European Central Bank President, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Prior to the EP election, the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that EU was facing the most complex and serious challenges of ever and political upheavals which shook the Europe in recent years.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker addressing the press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on May 7th 2019 (photo: VNA)

Challenges from the discord within the EP (2019-2024 tenure). The result of the EP election (May 26th 2019) proved the discord within EU when this bloc was the thirstiest for unity ever before. In spite of the fact that the parties in favour of the EU still maintained their central position in all member states, they were deprived of a relative large percentage of the poll by far-right, populist, and pro-environment green parties which gained significant results. In France, for example, the Far Right National Rally gained 32.4% of the poll while the ruling Party of La Republique en Marche (LREM) only gained 22.4%. That was a great disappointment of the LREM and French President Emmanuel Macron. In Germany, the union parties of Christian Democratic Union of Germany and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CDU/CSU) lost over 7% of the poll. In Greece, the ruling Party of Syriza was left behind the opposition Conservative New Democratic Party. Those results represented a warning about the rise of the far right and populism in the Europe. The European People's Party (EPP) and The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), which represented the traditional power over the past 40 years, no longer hold their No.1 position. They achieved only 329 seats and lost 75 seats while they had to gather at least 376 seats in the EP. It was the first time since 1979 the EEP and the S&D have not able to form an union including central-left and central-right parties to exercise leadership over the EU. As a result, they had to create an alliance with the other parties which would definitely get involved in the policy-making process during the 2019-2024 tenure. Absolutely, the law making process would become more difficult.

Challenges from the Brexit’s uncertain future. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU (also known as Brexit) whose deadline would be October 31st 2019 provoked a deep division within this country and led to the resignation of the Prime Minister Theresa May. Brexit has posed a serious challenge to the EU and could result in chaos in the UK-EU relations. On July 30th 2019, in the first phone call for his Irish counterpart, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK would leave the EU on October 31st 2019 in any circumstance; he told his counterpart the “backstop must be abolished” as part of Brexit negotiations. The backstop will allow the Irish border to remain open, which was the most disputable issue and the main reason for the UK parliament’s rejection of all adjustments to the Brexit deal made by the then Prime Minister Theresa May. Meanwhile, the EU has determined to protect the “backstop” as the indispensable to avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland under the EU and the Northern Ireland under the UK.

Challenges from the differences in the growth rate between the EU member states. When the Brexit sparks off issues and chaos in the Europe and has yet to be handled, the policy on developing a multi-speed Europe in response to the economic stagnation, advocated by the EU’s key member states such as Germany and France, is making the continent’s politics more intense. German Chancellor Angela Merkel ever stated that the EU’s multi-speed development was necessary or it would be disrupted. However, this policy is rejected by new members of the EU as they are concerned about being left behind the bloc. Poland and a number of the EU’s member states in the Eastern Europe such as the Czech Republic which have yet to join the Eurozone express their concern that 19 member states of the Eurozone will rapidly develop and leave the others behind.

Challenges from the migrant crisis. At the onset of the migrant crisis which has been the largest since the end of the World War II, several Northern and Western European countries, such as Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, and Sweden advocated the open-door refugee policy by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While other Western European countries, such as France and the UK responded more cautiously to this issue, Central Europe countries refused to take in refugees. At present, with the consequences of the migrant crisis, all member states of the EU should reconsider this issue more seriously.

To settle this problem, the EU has executed a plan to relocate migrants from frontline states, such as Italia and Greece. However, this plan has been met with severe refusal from a number of Eastern and Central European member states. The migrant crisis has now become a source of discord within the EU. Although it has been alleviated, its consequences will continue to impact on the EU’s political and socio-economic situation and cause disagreement among this bloc’s member states and within those countries.

Challenges from the difference between the policy on building a European Army and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In the Europe, there are two alliances which were established under the strategic plan by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the end of the World War II. They were used as the US instrument in the confrontation with the socialist system in the Europe. After the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Treaty dissolved, and Russia has integrated into the West; logically, the NATO should have been dissolved too. However, this alliance continues to be expanded and act as the US tool for realizing America’s global strategy. Recently, US President Donald Trump has told NATO allies to spend 2% of GDP on this alliance’s defence budget, which indeed means forcing those countries to use their money to acquire U.S. weapons. Up to now, 27 NATO member states have yet to fulfil their financial duty of 2018. While terrorist attacks have occurred continuously in many EU countries, the NATO still takes no reaction. Thus, the French President Emmanuel Macron put forward a proposal for building a European Army which would coexist with the NATO, arguing that the Europe could not protect itself without an Army separate from the NATO. To some extent the European Army will weaken the NATO as it will reduce this alliance’s defence budget and personnel. It could be said that the settlement of the difference between the building of a European Army and the NATO will be a challenge to the EP in its 2019-2024 tenure.

Challenges from the management of the EU’s relations with America, China, Russia, and Turkey. The EU member states will have to deal with the US President Donald Trump’s request for contributing at least 2% of GDP to the NATO’s defence spending and the trade war between Washington and the EU. Moreover, the EU will have to overcome the challenge from the US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran and the Paris climate agreement. It will also have to cope with the pressure from America for a halt to the Nord Stream Project with Russia. It is worth noting that the EU countries have yet to seek measures for settling the severe consequences from the US decision to end the Intermediate-Range Missile Forces Treaty between Washington and the Soviet Union/Russia since August 2nd 2019. Regarding Russia, the EU member states will have to take into account the issue on sanction against Moscow as it will cause damage to not only Russia, but also themselves. In fact, the EU countries have fallen into the “trap” set by America which is aimed at both sabotaging Moscow and diminishing the bloc’s development. With reference to China, the EU nations will have to both promote cooperation with Beijing and prevent the consequences of an “economic invasion” via China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative and “Made in China 2025” Plan. Concerning Turkey, a NATO member that is negotiating for joining the EU, the bloc’s member states will have to deal with Turkey’s decision to acquire Russian S-400 missile system and its increasing exploitation of oil and gas on the continental shelf in the North of the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the EU. Turkey is receiving the EU’s financial support to prevent the flow of refugees from North Africa -Middle East to the Europe. However, this country will end its efforts if the NATO members impose sanctions on Ankara due to its acquisition of Russian S-400 missile system. In addition, the EU must put store by the survival of the Iran nuclear deal when America as a giant friend has withdrawn from the deal with its own purpose.

To deal with those challenges for the sustainable development, the EU member states must strengthen a sense of unity within the bloc. According to the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, only by fostering unity could the EU restore the strength for its development and global-scale influence. The EU’s strategic agenda between 2019 and 2024 focuses on the following. (1) The EU will make itself capable of protecting its citizens, with emphasis placed on building the European Defence Budget in the period of 2021-2027 in order to develop defence products from the research stage (with 100% financial support) to the development of the whole products (a maximum of 20% financial support) and the test stage (a maximum of 80% financial support), make the European Army capable of self-manufacturing weapons of various types, reduce the burden of importing weapons, and ensure the bloc’s defence and security self-reliance. (2) The EU will deploy military consultants to its diplomatic delegations in Asia to enhance cooperation in security between the Europe and Asia according to the EU-Asia connectivity strategy; initially, it will deploy a delegation of military consultants to the ASEAN in Jakarta (Indonesia). (3) The EU will accelerate the modernization of its economy and increase its competitiveness in a world of integration and globalization impacted by the 4th industrial revolution. (4) It will build a fair and social Europe. (5) It will devote efforts to addressing the climate change, repelling the environmental degradation, and improving the effectiveness of using natural resources via the promotion of a green, sustainable economy. (6) It will ensure its energy security. (7) It will promote its values in the world and take part in building a world order according to the United Nations-based principle. (8) The EU will develop relations with its neighbours based on the balance of rights and duties and strengthen the Euro’s international status so as to defend the bloc’s economic and financial sovereignty.

Sr. Col. Le The Mau

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