This Week’s Hotspots
America has elected a new President – Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has expressed his concerns on the future of the EU-US relationship after the election of Donald Trump. Juncker and Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, called for an EU-US summit to discuss the issues arising to the EU in a Trump-environment.
Next to the crisis-like meeting on Trump, this week the EU has been busy discussing its security strategy. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, proposed a new Implementation Plan on Security and Defence to build on the EU’s new Global Strategy (dating from June this year).
Mogherini further addressed security with top EU military commanders, emphasising the importance to enhance the internal as well as the external security of the bloc.
She also discussed the importance of a future EU military HQ at the NATO Forum 2016. She reemphasised the importance of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration (July 2016), wherein both organisations commit to better cooperate in areas where they complement each other, affirming that they are indeed different, boasting of dissimilar tools and capacities.
The 13th of November marked the one-year anniversary of the Paris terrorist attacks. In commemoration of the victims, the Bataclan Theatre, where 89 people lost their lives, was reopened.
In Turkey, Erdogan implicitly threatened to let 3 million migrants pass into Europe if the EU continues to fail to grant Turkish citizens visa-free access.
Meanwhile, Germany announced a “Marshall Plan for Africa” with the aim to stem the migrant influx from the continent to the EU. The plan includes a boost in economic investments to foster economic growth and job creation, meant to act as incentive for potential migrants to stay in their countries.
At the same time, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, announced a 78-million-euro aid package for the easing of the refugee crisis and the improvement of the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.
Yet another eastern European election took place this week: this time it was the Bulgarians’ turn to elect a new President. The competition between the pro-Russian candidate and the pro-European candidate was strong in yet another face-off over pro-Russian and Western world views. Again, the results came out in favour of the Pro-Russian candidate.
First Brexit, now Trump
“Brexit” and “Trump” represent the results of just two historical elections that have taken place in 2016. The British call for an exit out of the EU, as well as the choice of the Republican candidate Donald Trump as President, represent a fundamental problem that is apparent in today’s developed societies: that of an ever-more disenfranchised lower class harmed by the effects of globalisation. In a Foreign Affairs article, Douglas Murray, predicts that in reaction to this new trend in politics, societies will increasingly witness a fusion between the established political left and right, as politicians are struggling to approach their constituencies. Murray notes that for instance, Social Liberals have not listened to their opponents, and have failed to connect with the lower class and respond to their concerns.
Drawing a parallel between US and EU populism
After the success of populism and far right rhetoric in the US, many are expecting populist parties in Europe to seize their opportunity in this current environment. However, the European and North American continents are significantly different. While optimism over the economy under Trump’s policies was based on decreased government regulation for corporations, this prospect does not lie ahead for Europe’s populists and their supporters. EU regulations put in place after the crises restrict member states in the implementation of significant financial change. However, the Eurozone does have existential challenges to face. Current concerns include Greece’s debt relief proposal, Italy’s financial budget standoff with Brussels, and the rise of Eurosceptics on the continent. These issues will strongly test EU cohesiveness and integration in the time ahead.