Fault lines in the European Union - II
A recent happening worth noting is the local elections that happened in France in which supporters of France’s far-right Front National led by Marine Le Pen narrowly lost. But despite the setback, the bigger story is the rising support for the French far-right which has been staunchly against the EU holding its policies responsible for decline in agriculture, fishing, deindustrialization, etc. Interestingly Le Pen has compared Brexit to the fall of the Berlin Wall, predicting it would mean the beginning of the end for the EU.
The issue of more than one million immigrants heading for Europe from Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia has only helped to strengthen the discontent against the EU within its member states. Escalation in migrant crisis has also led to confrontations and diplomatic disputes in the EU countries. Lately Hungary sent armoured vehicles to its border with Croatia, while Slovenian police sealed several crossings after Croatia attempted to offload tens of thousands of refugees prompting the UN to warn that the concept of European unity was at risk. Hungary and France too got involved in verbal spat as French President Francois Hollande asked Hungary to back mandatory migrant quotas or consider leaving the EU. Countries like Macedonia, Hungary, Poland, France, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, etc. have either been shutting their borders or have been imposing stricter border restrictions. Few days back Slovakia’s Prime Minister Roberto Fico threatened to leave the European Union over quotas to accept refugees. This particular crisis now threat the very spirit of free movement of people across the 28-nation bloc termed Schengen Zone.
Likewise there are many member of EU in which the public and political opinion has been shifting towards an exit from it. Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden and Poland on one or the other pretexts relating to economy and employment have steadily seen increase in anti-EU opinion. Lately Romania abandoned its hopes of being invited to join the passport-free Schengen Zone of EU, as it became clear that Bulgarian and Romanian admission was on hold mainly due to objection from Germany. Early this year Iceland withdrew its bid to EU membership citing major differences over fishing, which is the mainstay of its economy.
Secessionist movements too have been a cause of worry for many European governments especially UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark, France, Belgium, etc. Another similar problem recently propping its head up has been radicalization. In the last few days news reports by leading European dailies have brought to light the acceptance by service police officials of radical pockets, even in cities like London and Paris being under total influence of fundamentalists where police are required to take permissions from local religious leaders to enter and are required to avoid wearing their uniforms. The results of the spread of this radicalization has been clearly seen during the Paris attacks and the related arrests made in France, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland, and the earlier acts of terrorism in London, Madrid, Burgas, Brussels, etc.
Statement by European Parliament President Martin Schulz that EU will fall apart in decade has been very noteworthy. In the face of looming problems like rising debts and unemployment, numbing of economy, inflation, migrant crisis, radicalization, terrorist activities, secessionist movements, diplomatic disputes and major escalation in global conflicts odds are heavily loaded against the EU or the European Union. The time is the best judge. Let us wait and watch…
|| Hari Om || || Shriram || || Ambadnya ||