MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti), Nikita Alentyev – The future of a united Europe is under question in light of the results of the most recent European Parliament elections, a spokesperson for an independent European diplomacy advisory group told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
“Rather than ‘What kind of Europe?’ voters may have really been asked ‘Do we want Europe at all?’ For most the answer is still yes, but the ‘no’ vote has increased,” Nicholas Whyte told RIA Novosti Thursday, explaining the reasons for Europe’s current political impasse over the candidacy for Head of European Commission.
Sol Trumbo, an economist and political activist at the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute (TNI), confirmed the surprising move away from the concept of unity, basic to the European project.
“Such a rise from the far right was unexpected. Parties rejecting EU membership, Eurosceptic, gained much support,” he told RIA Novosti confirming the air of disillusionment that seems to surround the outcome of the 2014 European Parliament elections.
The divergent expectations of the European Parliament and EU member states set the stage for the failure of the Spitzenkandidat initiative, Ian Bond, the Director of the foreign policy Centre for European Reform told RIA Novosti, elaborating on the divide of EU constituents over how much power the supranational institutions should hold.
“The experiment with so-called ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ (‘leading candidates’) has not worked, because the European Parliament saw it as a chance to increase its own power over the Commission, and ignored the fact that some leaders in the European Council had political problems with the EP’s candidates. But my working assumption now is that Herman Van Rompuy will find a compromise candidate, probably from the center-right (since that remains the largest block in the EP) acceptable to the Council, and that all the moderate groupings in the EP will back him or her,” Bond said.
The United Kingdom spoke out against the excess of the European Parliament’s power.
“The British are a little marginalized from this because the Conservatives are not in any of the big groups. But at the same time, they are a big country and provided that their demands are realistic (they are not always) other EU actors will try to meet them,” Nicholas Whyte said, putting the importance of Britain’s concerns in larger-scale EU perspective.
Ian Bond of the Center for European Reform pointed to the rationale driving the UK’s motion to partially return Brussels’ powers to EU national capitals.
“The good reason is that the Commission does not always respect the principles of subsidiarity – that is, that it should only intervene if it is able to act more effectively than member states – and proportionality – that is, that the Commission’s intervention should be limited to what is necessary to achieve the objectives of EU treaties,” Bond stated.
He drew on an example of a dropped regulation proposal to prevent restaurants from serving olive oil in open containers to illustrate the need to “reduce Commission over-regulation,” as not all problems have “to be dealt with at the EU level.”
“Efforts to limit the free movement of labor, one of the foundations of the European single market, by giving member states more control over EU immigration are politically popular in the UK, France and some other northern European states, but would be economically damaging,” he said, warning of the threats such a motion may entail.
TNI’s Sol Trumbo is less certain a Eurosceptic sentiment may break economic ties between the member countries.
“The EU is quite an old project. The member-states have common markets, and that will last longer than any political affiliation. It is difficult to imagine that this will be broken in the short time, economic ties are too strong,” he said, warning that “other EU components as the Euro or the common Trade policy could be seriously questioned in the coming years.”
Summarizing the pending challenges that lie ahead of the newly elected European Parliament, Ian Bond speculated a more difficult decision-making process.
“The question is whether they [Eurosceptics] will be able to work together effectively either to promote a specific shared agenda or (more likely) to disrupt the agenda of mainstream parties. They are a very disparate group, from extreme left (the Greek Syriza party) to extreme right (the French Front National), and have very different views on many issues,” he concluded.