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EMinS ASKS: THE FUTURE OF THE EU AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

27.04.2017

Given the recent developments in the EU and the bitter taste in the mouth of those that met to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome we have taken the opportunity to ask, a prolific expert, Dr. Tatiana Martins Pedro Do Coutto from the Economics Department of the University of Warwick her opinion regarding the future of the EU and the prospect of further integration and enlargement.

 

  • Which of the five scenarios outlined by the EU Commission White Paper seems most likely? Where do you see the EU in 25 years?



Those who want more do more – is the most likely scenario.

The White Paper on the Future of Europe and the Rome Declaration signed by representatives of the 27 member states and EU institutions on 25th March formally recognize that a multi-speed Europe – a current de facto practice in EU policy-making – might be the best option to advance integration while circumventing the stalemate imposed by consensus and unanimity voting. In fact, there has been growing consensus that this could be the only way to effectively control the potential damage brought about by Brexit and by the rise of populism and Europhobia throughout the EU.

In practice, in 25 years this could mean: a) a hard core EU with a common monetary and fiscal policy, intelligence and data sharing, and refugee quotas; b) a broader Monetary Union, but no common fiscal policy; c) a single market with freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital (including non-member states such as Norway); d) pan European environmental agreements, including candidate countries, Balkan states, EEA members, and the UK.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that in the future EU, those who want (and can afford) more will do and benefit more.

 

  • In light of the recent events on the EU-Turkey axis, do you believe that Turkey still has a future in the EU or is she doomed to remain a candidate?



Turkey is a crucial regional player that can by no means be neglected by the EU. There has been concern in EU member states that Turkey may become a member state against the will of EU citizens. These concerns are completely unfounded because: a) unanimity voting is required to admit any new member state and b) Turkey itself is not interested in becoming a member state, but in having a somehow special relationship with the EU. From a Turkish perspective, preferential agreements (including visa liberalization), a key role in managing the refugee crisis and NATO membership would be a good outcome. The challenge for the EU is how to manage its relationship with Turkey given the increasing concentration of powers in president Erdoğan’s hands, and Turkey’s closer relationship with Russia. The relationship between Turkey and the West depends not only on the EU, but on the capacity of the US and NATO to ensure Ankara’s cooperation.


  • Given the instabilities inside the EU do you believe in the continuation of the process of ascension, more specifically, in the case of the Western Balkans?


The future of the EU as a viable political and economic project will depend on its capacity to overcome its institutional crisis and reconnect with European citizens. The problem is that there is a mismatch between citizens’ expectations about the EU and its legal competence (i.e., legal authority) to deliver economic stability, opportunities, social justice and security. A more powerful EU might be able to offer credible and attractive payoffs such as political and economic stability for countries in the process of accession to membership. But more power, which could stem from a common fiscal policy, an energy union and the strengthening of the European Defense Agency for example, can only be provided by member states, and by national governments that are truly committed with EU goals. The EU finds itself at a crossroads: it is possible that the combination of Brexit and the coming French and German elections may provide momentum for further integration and for the relaunching of the EU as a social and political project. Failure to further integrate, on the other hand, may jeopardize not only ascension and stability in the Western Balkans, but the European project itself. 

 

 

Interview prepared by Ognjen Milicevic, EMinS Intern.


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