The Future of EU

European Union faces substantial challenges. Crisis after crisis, issues became so threatening, that they start to threaten the very basic of the union – its integrity.

The most important topics to be discussed are:

  • Migration crisis and its consequences, integration of migrants
  • Rise of Anti-EU or “Euroskeptic” Political Parties resulting in BREXIT and consequent threats

 

Questions to be discussed within the clubs:

  1. What should be the future of migration policy of EU?
  2. How should be immigrants integrated in our society to ensure peaceful and stable future of EU?
  3. How to cope with the rise of nationalism, Anti-EU political movements, BREXIT to avoid the destruction of EU in the future?

 

Recommended project structure:

  1. The topic is really “HEAVY” – containing a lot of facts and interconnected issues. It would be useful to select club members interested in the topic to study it properly and then explain it to the others during a meeting. Some of the topics were discussed in ZAMUN and other conferences – students from committees dealing with the topic can be involved.
  2. In the meeting the topics should be discussed by the club. In the debate, answers for the 3 questions should be formed.
  3. A report from the debate should describe the discussion and its outcomes (including pictures).
  4. Club should manage an activity related to the topic (involving the club members, or also the school, city, region – based on the club possibilities). It can be an information campaign, survey, debate for public, video project, … whatever you come up with together.
  5. A report from the activity should sum it up (including pictures).

Immigration Crisis and Intergration of Immigrants

Over the last year and a half, Europe has experienced a significant migration and refugee crisis as increasing numbers of people have fled conflict and poverty in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere. According to the United Nations, more than 1 million refugees and migrants sought to enter the EU in 2015, and over 90% were from the world’s top 10 refugeeproducing countries.11 Greece was the major arrival and transit point for individuals crossing the Mediterranean Sea, although Italy also saw a significant number of migrant and refugee arrivals. Many people arriving in Greece subsequently attempted to cross the Western Balkans in an effort to reach Schengen “gateway” countries, such as Hungary and Slovenia. From there, they sought to travel onward to northern EU members, such as Germany and Sweden, where they believed they were more likely to receive asylum and better welfare benefits.

During the course of 2015, various EU initiatives to manage the crisis proved largely unsuccessful. The EU came under criticism for lacking coherent and effective migration and asylum policies, which have long been difficult to forge because of national sovereignty concerns and sensitivities about minorities, integration, and identity. The crisis created deep divisions within the EU. Frontline states Greece and Italy and key destination countries farther north expressed dismay at a lack of European solidarity, while others charged that traditionally generous asylum policies in countries such as Germany and Sweden were serving as “pull” factors and exacerbating the flows. Some EU governments reportedly viewed Germany’s announcement in August 2015 that it would no longer apply the EU’s “Dublin regulation” (which usually deems the first EU country an asylum-seeker enters as responsible for examining that individual’s application) as unilaterally upending agreed EU asylum procedures and failing to consider the implications for the wider EU. 

Efforts to establish EU redistribution and resettlement programs, in which each EU member state would accept a certain number of asylum-seekers and refugees (in part to relieve the burdens on Greece and Italy), were extremely controversial. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe were particularly vocal opponents, fearing that the newly arrived migrants and refugees, many of whom are Muslim, could alter the primarily Christian identities of their countries and of Europe. Although the EU approved a limited but mandatory plan to relocate some asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy in September 2015, this outcome was achieved using the EU’s qualified majority voting system rather than consensus (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania voted against the plan, and Finland abstained). Adopting a proposal on such a sensitive issue directly related to a state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by qualified majority is largely unprecedented in the EU, and many observers viewed the need to hold the vote as further indication of the profound cleavages within the bloc.

As the uptick in refugees and migrants arriving in Europe continued unabated in early 2016 (roughly 150,000 individuals crossed the Mediterranean, mostly to Greece, in the first three months), the EU began to focus on discouraging people from undertaking the journey in an effort to stem the flows. In March 2016, EU leaders agreed to end the “wave-through approach” that was allowing individuals to transit the Western Balkans to seek asylum in other EU countries and announced a new deal with Turkey. The main provisions of the EU’s accord with Turkey centered on Turkey taking back all new “irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands in exchange for EU resettlement of one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned. The EU also pledged to speed up the disbursement of a previously allocated €3 billion in aid to Turkey and to provide an additional €3 billion in assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Since these measures took effect, the number of migrants and refugees reaching Europe has decreased substantially. Nevertheless, the EU’s deal with Turkey remains controversial and potentially fragile. While most EU leaders maintain that the return measures agreed upon with Turkey are crucial to breaking the business model of migrant smuggling and saving lives, some Members of the European Parliament and many human rights advocates are concerned that the agreement violates international law and the rights of refugees. They also worry that other parts of the accord—in which the EU pledged to lift EU visa requirements for Turkish citizens and to reenergize Turkish accession negotiations—could be seen as rewarding a Turkish government that they view as increasingly authoritarian.

The crisis continues to have significant repercussions for European governments and the EU. Perhaps most notably, it has severely strained the Schengen system, which largely depends on confidence in the security of the bloc’s external borders. This concept has been tested not only by the magnitude of the migration and refugee flows but also by concerns that some terrorists may have been able to exploit the chaos to slip into Europe (see “European Security Concerns,” below, for more information). Several Schengen countries (including Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden) have instituted temporary border controls in response to the migratory pressures. Some experts worry these measures could become permanent, at least on a de facto basis.

EU officials assert that they remain committed to Schengen and are working to strengthen EU border controls. In December 2015, the European Commission proposed measures aimed at tightening the rules for mandatory checks at the EU’s external borders and establishing a new joint European Border and Coast Guard to reinforce national border control capacities (although this measure must still be approved by member states and the European Parliament). The Commission has also been working with Greece to improve the country’s border control management and remedy problems in its asylum registration procedures. The Commission aims for all temporary border controls within the Schengen area to be lifted by the end of 2016.

The migration and refugee flows have renewed questions about the ability of European countries to integrate minorities into European culture and society. Such anxieties have become more pronounced amid reports of criminal activity and sexual assaults allegedly committed by some migrants and asylum-seekers and by revelations that many of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe were carried out by extremists of Muslim background born and/or raised in Europe. At the same time, concerns exist about increasing societal tensions and xenophobia in Europe. Germany, Sweden, and other EU countries have seen an increase in the number of violent incidents against migrants and refugees over the past few months.

Debate has also arisen over the economic impact of the migration and refugee flows. Some leaders and analysts contend that the influxes could be economically beneficial and help to offset unfavorable demographic developments (such as aging populations and shrinking workforces), thus strengthening EU fiscal sustainability in the longer term. Many experts point out, however, that much will depend on how well migrants and refugees are integrated into the labor market.15 Others worry that the newcomers could take jobs away or reduce wages, especially in the short term. Some suggest that such fears have helped to further increase support in many EU countries for far-right, anti-immigrant, euroskeptic political parties.

The European Union: Current Challenges and Future Prospects Kristin Archick Specialist in European Affairs June 21, 2016

Rise of Anti-EU or “Euroskeptic” Political Parties resulting in BREXIT and consequent threats

What does Brexit mean?

It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a possible Greek exit from the euro was dubbed Grexit in the past.

Why is Britain leaving the European Union?

A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.

How long will it take for Britain to leave the EU?

Once Article 50 has been triggered, the UK will have two years to negotiate its withdrawal. Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested the country could formally sever its relationship with the EU by December 2018. But no one really knows how the Brexit process will work – Article 50 was only created in late 2009 and it has never been used.

Former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, now Chancellor, wanted Britain to remain in the EU, and he has suggested it could take up to six years for the UK to complete exit negotiations. The terms of Britain’s exit will have to be agreed by 27 national parliaments, a process which could take some years, he has argued.

EU law still stands in the UK until it ceases being a member. The UK will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making.

The likely focus of negotiations between the UK and EU

In very simplified terms, the starting positions are that the EU will only allow the UK to be part of the European single market (which allows tariff-free trade) if it continues to allow EU nationals the unchecked right to live and work in the UK. The UK says it wants controls “on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe”. Both sides want trade to continue after Brexit with the UK seeking a positive outcome for those who wish to trade goods and services” – such as those in the City of London. The challenge for the UK’s Brexit talks will be to do enough to tackle immigration concerns while getting the best possible trade arrangements with the Eu.

Some Brexiteers, such as ex-chancellor Lord Lawson, say that as the UK does not want freedom of movement and the EU says that without it there is no single market membership, the UK should seek to end “uncertainty” by pushing ahead with Brexit and not “waste time” trying to negotiate a special deal.

What do “soft” and “hard” Brexit mean?

These terms are increasingly being used as debate focuses on the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU. There is no strict definition of either, but they are used to refer to the closeness of the UK’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit.

So at one extreme, “hard” Brexit could involve the UK refusing to compromise on issues like the free movement of people in order to maintain access to the EU single market. At the other end of the scale, a “soft” Brexit might follow a similar path to Norway, which is a member of the single market and has to accept the free movement of people as a result.

Ex-chancellor George Osborne and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are among those to have warned against pursuing a “hard” option, while some Eurosceptic Conservative MPs have put forward the opposite view.

Will immigration be cut?

Prime Minister Theresa May has said one of the main messages she has taken from the Leave vote is that the British people want to see a reduction in immigration.

She has said this will be a focus of Brexit negotiations. The key issue is whether other EU nations will grant the UK access to the single market, if that is what it wants, while at the same time being allowed to restrict the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK.

Mrs May has said she remains committed to getting net migration – the difference between the numbers entering and leaving the country – down to a “sustainable” level, which she defines as being below 100,000 a year. It is currently running at 330,000 a year, of which 184,000 are EU citizens, and 188,000 are from outside the EU – the figures include a 39,000 outflow of UK citizens.

Could MPs block an EU exit?

Could the necessary legislation pass the Commons, given that a lot of MPs – all SNP and Lib Dems, nearly all Labour and many Conservatives – were in favour of staying? The referendum result is not legally binding – Parliament still has to pass the laws that will get Britain out of the 28 nation bloc, starting with the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act.

The withdrawal agreement also has to be ratified by Parliament – the House of Lords and/or the Commons could vote against ratification, according to a House of Commons library report. In practice, Conservative MPs who voted to remain in the EU would be whipped to vote with the government. Any who defied the whip would have to face the wrath of voters at the next general election.

One scenario that could see the referendum result overturned, is if MPs forced a general election and a party campaigned on a promise to keep Britain in the EU, got elected and then claimed that the election mandate topped the referendum one. Two-thirds of MPs would have to vote for a general election to be held before the next scheduled one in 2020.

Who wanted the UK to leave the EU?

The UK Independence Party, which received nearly four million votes – 13% of those cast – in May’s general election, has campaigned for many years for Britain’s exit from the EU. They were joined in their call during the referendum campaign by about half the Conservative Party’s MPs, including Boris Johnson and five members of the then Cabinet. A handful of Labour MPs and Northern Ireland party the DUP were also in favour of leaving.

What were their reasons for wanting the UK to leave?

They said Britain was being held back by the EU, which they said imposed too many rules on business and charged billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return. They also wanted Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming here to live and/or work.

One of the main principles of EU membership is “free movement”, which means you don’t need to get a visa to go and live in another EU country. The Leave campaign also objected to the idea of “ever closer union” between EU member states and what they see as moves towards the creation of a “United States of Europe”.

Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EUBy Brian Wheeler & Alex HuntBBC News 29 September 2016