Nearly everyone agrees that May's EU election is the most crucial ever. One of the most insightful EU political analysts, Janis Emmanouilidis, the director of studies at the European Policy Center, helped us map out the challenges ahead as the EU prepares to enter into a new political cycle.
The EU's core problem over the next five years will be fragmentation: "not only fragmentation between countries but also a high level of polarization within national societies," Emmanouilidis said. He talks about the "battle of split camps," the growing confrontation not only between nationalist forces and the defenders of EU values, but also within these two camps. These conflicts "will not be resolved in the foreseeable future."
Emmanouilidis sees Europe's future as depending on mastering the ability to counter sources of fragmentation and polarization: "EU business will not become simple or straightforward," he warned, "either in Brussels or in national capitals. However, trying to move things forward while having a compass indicating the EU's future direction is still worth trying for the sake of current and future generations."
The situation today "is much better than it was at the height of the poly-crisis" that hit Europe in the past 10 years, Emmanouilidis said, but he laments Europe missing a window of opportunity for significant change in 2016-2017, in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the French presidential elections. "We did not take advantage of that period," he said pointing to Eurozone inaction. At the same time, the "negative coalition" — as Emmanouilidis calls the Hanseatic League, the group of EU countries led by the Netherlands which are trying to obstruct the dominance of France and Germany — is having a damaging effect on the prospects of the EU.
Read or listen to full interview here
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