The Progressive Post

Turning a crisis into an opportunity

21/05/2016

One can not condemn the reaction of some European citizens to refugees, without attempting to understand them. Since 2008, we have lived in a long period of social, economic, and financial uncertainty, with youth unemployment rates higher sometimes than 50%.

However, responding to these crises is not impossible. It involves strategic choices vis-à-vis the Mediterranean countries as well as the threat of Islamic terrorists. If the ventures and actions of European countries have created a lot of problems in the Middle East, there are high hopes for a changing dynamic. The landmark agreement on the Iranian Nuclear Deal is one for which Federica Mogherini fully contributed. Moreover, however slowly, negotiations for a peace process in Syria are taking place, alongside a national unity government finally getting to work in Libya.

Responding to these crises, also implies a sort of political leap. In  2014, we wrote to the European Commission, specially to Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, to say that the European Dublin Regulation – which relegated that the management of refugees as a national issue – belonged to a by- gone era. We heard the President propose an eponymous plan of € 315 billion to stimulate invest- ment. How many euros have been spent since this lovely announce- ment? Where is the “triple-A” on social issues, promised by Jean- Claude Juncker? What Commissioner has dared to implement basic income or the European unemployment insurance?

Fortunately for Europe, the European Central Bank has been able to respond but hasn’t been able to hide the institutional weaknesses and lack of coordination between Member States. Yet, Europeans commit themselves to the Commission, Parliament, and Council. Unfortunately, they are merely hampered by a complicated decision-making mechanism that favors anti-European personalities
– working against the European spirit, instead of advancing it.

Alternatively, the word crisis – from the Greek “Κρίσις” – combines the meaning of “opportunity” and “difficulty”. So far in Europe, we have yet to see a comprehensive grasp of the term. Every day, Europeans are waking up to a headline of a new crisis. Perhaps most alarming, however, is the fact that they are never waking up with real solutions. Even worse, by their frantic repetition and easy associations, these negative comments are poisoning our common values – coexistence is the basis of both our heritage and pride.

On June 23, a referendum will be held on the membership of the United Kingdom to the European Union. Whatever the outcome, the EU will be required to establish and renew enhanced cooperation between those who wish to move towards more political union and those, as in the past, who wish to abstain from it.

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