Forward or backward? Decision time in the EU

Bernd Riegert, Deutsche Welle, 19.05.2019

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"The elections taking place on 26 May will decide the destiny of this continent," the leader of the Christian Democratic bloc in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, declared at a plenary session last month. Weber heads the list of candidates for his political family, the European People's Party (EPP), and he is not alone: Many politicians from all camps have been using the same terms to describe the upcoming European elections. Weber intends to run for president of the European Commission. He sees the vote as a straight fight between pro-Europeans and nationalists. "This Europe that we're living in today is a good Europe," he says. "We won't let today's nationalists destroy it for us."

The elections for the European Parliament at the end of May will decide the EU's future course: A return to nationalism or more integration to increase its global strength? Bernd Riegert reports from Brussels. [...]

'EU is resilient'

The composition of the new parliament will force Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Liberals and Greens to work together in a grand coalition, according to Janis Emmanouilidis, a Europe expert from the European Policy Centre, a think tank in Brussels. However, Emmanouilidis does not believe there will be a complete change of course in the EU after the elections. "We're not going to see a hostile takeover of the EU," he says. "We must examine this critically, but at the same time, we shouldn't exaggerate and be too negative. The EU has displayed considerable resilience in the past, and that will also be the case in the future."

He says that, having survived the debt and migration crises, it's important that the new parliament arm itself for new crises, relating to the economy or its relationships with the United States, Russia, or China. Emmanouilidis warns that here, too, there are decisions to be made about the EU's future political direction. "There will be more crises. At this point we don't know whether these crises will arise out of old problems, or whether there will be new challenges. We have to prepare ourselves to weather the storms." [...]

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