With the recent spate of high profile terror attacks in the major European capitals of Paris, Berlin and Brussels, terrorism has once again reared its ugly head in Europe. Combined with a chain of small-scale terror attacks such as the Würzburg train attack, Ansbach bombing, Reutlingen knife attack and the Normandy church attack that is occurring with increasing frequency, there now exists an atmosphere of fear and insecurity throughout the continent.
This situation is further complicated by the ongoing refugee crisis, and the EU’s policy of open borders, which right-wing parties see as major risks for further terrorist attacks. However, while public anger is increasingly directed at new migrants and refugees who many label as Islamic radicals or terrorist, most of the attackers were, in fact, born in Europe and later radicalized through online media. It it thus up to delegates to discuss a comprehensive solution that extends beyond immigration and security policies in order to secure Europe from terror threats both from within and from abroad.
After voting to leave the European Union in June, the UK now faces the unenviable task of managing the consequences of triggering article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. While the UK seeks to retain the benefits of EU membership, especially the access to the common market, it has also firmly decided to disentangle itself from some of the EU’s more controversial policies: the Schengen policy and the vast array of regulations governing various sectors of the economy come to mind. On the other hand, EU leaders are determined to deter further euroscepticism by sending a very clear message – that the conditions of EU membership come as a whole package and countries are expected to accept them upon joining the Union.
Worryingly, other EU countries like the Netherlands, France and Sweden have seen a rise in far right nationalist parties which view the Brexit vote as a catalyst for further disintegration of the bloc. In order to continue “creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe” the economic, political and cultural union needs to consider serious reforms to its membership and governance policies. One possible direction is moving towards a looser, more a la carte, European Union, with no expectation, for instance, that all members present and future would join the Eurozone while also accepting the need for national distinctions and sovereignty. Delegates of the EU, the future of the European project is in your hands.
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