Europe After 2019 – Integration or Disintegration? When will the Further EU Enlargement be Possible? (report)

The theme that has repeatedly appeared in numerous discussion panels of the 12th Europe-Ukraine Forum in Rzeszów was the future of Europe after the elections to the European Parliament in 2019. The current political situation of Europe and possible scenarios of future changes in the European Union were discussed by guests from Italy, Serbia, Great Britain, and Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the last few years, we can observe an evident increase of nationalism and populism across the Europe. The long-term strategy to deepen European integration is still being challenged. In Europe, we can hear louder and louder voices of  the opponents of migrants, not only these arriving from distant continents but also those from the poorer EU member states and countries of the eastern neighborhood. In the face of these growing trends, we should seriously consider whether the European Union will be ready to accept new member states.

The moderator of this discussion panel on the future of European integration was Francesca Traldi. This independent expert from Italy has touched on all the major issues which currently Euroepe has to face, such as Brexit, the migration crisis and terrorist attacks. All of these problems can condition the future of the European Union, influencing possible decisions of the other states interested in joining the EU.

Undoubtedly, the speech of Dirk Hazell, leader of the EPP party from Great Britain attracted the biggest attention. Presenting his, different from pro-Brexit, point of view, he stated that the European Union is one of the best political solutions ever created, which also helped to build the largest global economy. In his opinion, the United Kingdom had a huge impact on the development of the EU, the creation of a common market and the admission of new Member States. Hazell also thinks that the EU without the UK would be less robust.

Of course, the EU has a positive future and it can be helped by the british decision to stay in this organization. Our ambition should be to share the European homeland, which will serve the next generations. Further integration is possible and advisable.

The Serbian perspective was presented by Gordana Čomić, vice-president of the Serbian National Assembly. “Why does Serbia deserve EU membership? We’ve tried everything else and it didn’t work.” In her opinion, it is important to be ethical in politics. Today, the unfriendly approach to the migrants in Europe is still increasing, and according to Ms Comic it is a kind of racism and narcissism. In the current situation, the vice-president sees an analogy to the events that took place in former Yugoslavia. From the perspective of the European outsider, Brexit is one of the rarest political processes during our lives, because it changes the political landscape without a war, and this has never happened before. Ms Comic pointed out that the current processes are very dangerous.

Instead of Europeaization of Balkans, we have Balkanization of Europe, and that will not bring good results.

However, she expressed hope that the future of the Union is bright and we should appreciate the fact that it is the only international project that really works, and without the EU, Europeans would continue to kill each other.

During the discussion we were also able to hear the voice of another country hoping to join the EU – Ukraine. Taras Stetskiv, director of development at the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform, remarked that before Ukraine decides to become a member of the EU, they have to know what the future of the organization will be. It is necessary to find out what kind of project they can join and decide if they really want it.

Europe has changed significantly over the past 15 years: the eurozone crisis, the migration crisis, Russia’s aggression. This can lead to a two-speed Europe. That is why the question about the future EU model is fundamental.

In the opinion of Mr Stetskiv, probably there is no possibility for Ukraine to join EU in the next 5 years, but it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be prepared for this scenario. However, as long as there is no consensus and common vision of the future of the organization, new countries shouldn’t be accepted.

All the speakers agreed that before the European Union decides to accept new members, it should reform itself and internally establish a coherent vision of further actions that will improve the functioning of this important subject on the international stage.