Sunshine always follows rain and that’s true for the EU too. Macron’s pro-EU party is set for a sweeping victory next Sunday, after delivering a crushing blow to the far-right. In Italy, the anti-system and anti-euro 5-Star movement suffered a sharp setback in a local election. Grassroots pro-EU political formations are flourishing in many European cities. And the EU’s economy is growing for the fifth year in a row, a trend that is set to continue this year and the next.
The former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt tweeted that “the new European pattern now is stability and confidence in the EU”. And EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said that “there is an incredible demand for the EU in the world”. This could have sounded preposterous before the election of Donald Trump, but seems to be a matter of fact now.
John Lennon sang “You don’t know what you got, until you lose it”. As the UK drama unfolds, Europeans have started to understand the value of EU membership, and this includes the UK voters who stripped Theresa May of her parliamentary majority. Meanwhile, Brexit has started to bite. A shortage of EU migrant labour is already affecting sectors in the UK such as nursing, cleansing and accountancy.
The positive mood towards the EU should not be wasted. But there are risks. In particular, the Commission is readying infringement sanctions on the Visegrad Four for not following the EU policy for relocation of migrants. This comes on the heels of the Rule of Law procedure against Poland, which has shown the Commission can do little to challenge a country whose legislation is deemed to represent a “systemic risk” of undermining democracy, or against any state teaming up with a black sheep.
The EU really doesn’t need this internal conflict but it seems unavoidable, as the Commission is preparing to announce the infringements on Wednesday (14 June). Angela Merkel once said the refugee crisis had the potential for destroying the EU. Some blame her for having started the whole thing. Maybe the upcoming clash will be worse than any other the Union has seen in recent times.
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Ukraine celebrated its first day of visa-free travel to the EU yesterday. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini called it a “win-win solution”.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis and Donald Trump could not agree on whether they had discussed visa waivers in Washington on Saturday. Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Cyprus and Croatia are the only EU countries whose citizens still need special permission to enter the US.
Tech expert Jamie Bartlett told EURACTIV’s Sam Morgan that governments need to start regulating now or disruptive innovations will destroy millions of jobs and erode away their tax bases over the next decade. He said the Commission should seize the opportunities of modern technology to involve citizens and build a shared European identity.
Critics of biofuels should avoid making sweeping statements linking food-based biofuels to increased food prices, according to the FAO’s senior natural resources officer. Brazil shows how fuel production and food security can exist side by side, he said.
Kosovo yesterday held its third election since declaring independence in 2008. Mainstream parties did well but widespread disappointment over endemic poverty and corruption led to a record low turn-out of 41.5%.
Thousands took to the streets in Moldova to protest electoral reforms that critics say would entrench the ruling Democratic Party’s power.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola weighed into Catalonia’s independence debate yesterday, calling on the international community to support the referendum bid.
The head of the French Development Agency told EURACTIV that the EU will have to step up its aid efforts after Brexit and defended the use of development funds to tackle the migration crisis.
Günther Oettinger wishes he had done Erasmus. The EU’s enormously popular exchange programme turns 30 tomorrow.
Look out for…
Tomorrow’s Parliament debate on imposing binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets on member states. The report was submitted by Dutch liberal Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy.
Views are the author’s.