2014: A difficult year for the EU

Christoph Hasselbach, Deutsche Welle, 27.12.2014

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For the European Union, the year was marked by division, euroskepticism and self-doubt. But the ongoing confrontation with Russia could once again bring unity.

It was a foreseeable political disaster: discontent had long been seething, and in May it showed its force in the elections for the European Parliament. Almost everywhere, euroskeptic parties, right-wing populists and even parties openly hostile toward the European Union celebrated strong showings. In France, Britain and Denmark, they even won the election. [...]

Mouthpiece for the disillusioned

The euro crisis was a "central factor, at least a catalyst for the feeling that the EU is either too far away or gets too involved," said Janis Emmanouilidis, an analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre. [...]

The French problem

France's capabilities for structural reforms are rather weak, said Emmanouilidis, though he added that it's not likely that the country will recover any time soon. France is also "fraught with question marks" of a political nature due to the strength of the far right. [...]

Cracks in the old order

At least this bitter experience has taught the Europeans the importance of solidarity. In the dispute with Russia, the EU has presented a unified front like it rarely has before, proof that the 28 EU member states, with their varying positions and relationships with Moscow, were and continue to be able to agree on a common position, said Emmanouilidis.

The question remains, however, how long the Europeans can now hold out in the standoff with Russia. The crisis has restored the idea that Europe is "stronger united than alone," said Emmanouilidis. That truism seemed long-forgotten in the EU - but 2014 has brought it back to life.

See original text at Deutsche Welle here



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