The run-up to this historic event has been filled with intra-organizational controversy over European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's proposal for a so-called "two-speed" EU, which would see the original Western European core members integrate more closely and at a faster rate than the Eastern European peripheral newcomers. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia have already voiced their loud opposition to what appears to be the institutional segregation of the supposedly inclusive bloc’s members, while Juncker's Western surrogates hail his suggestion as the only feasible way to keep the EU together in the post-Brexit age of New Populism and rising "Euroskepticism."
These developments cast a heavy shadow over what just a few years ago could have been assumed to be a joyous celebration marking a milestone anniversary, but the EU's 60th year of existence sees the bloc facing a series of what might turn out to be existential crises. Brexit and the widespread grassroots opposition to Brussels which has been spreading over the continent like wildfire over the past couple of years are the most immediate challenges to the European project, as they could lead to even more uncontrollable centrifugal forces coming to power and tearing the organization up from within. Adding fuel the populist fire is the Immigrant Crisis which has exploded over the last two years, and which has already fed into the rise of nationalist, right-wing, and even fascist-xenophobic elements which are eager to fight in what they perceive to be an imminent "Clash of Civilizations."
Rounding up the list of crises are the external ones concerning the bloc's foreign relations, particularly with Russia, Turkey, and the US. Brussels was pressured by Washington to sanction Moscow during the opening stages of the Ukrainian Crisis, while its ties with an Islamifying and independently inclined Ankara have markedly deteriorated in the past year. Lastly, conservative champion Donald Trump and his chief advisor Stephen Bannon seem determined to dismantle the EU due to their ideological opposition to its policies. Confronted with such a combination of simultaneous crises, the EU’s definitely going to have a lot to decide upon during its upcoming historic gathering.
Stevan Gajić, Institute of European Studies in Belgrade and Enrique R. Acedo, geopolitical observer and writer for Katehon stopped by to discuss the issue.
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