It is everyone's failure if a country leaves the European Union. In spite of some undeniably, specifically British features, we must not underestimate nor analyse it lightly, because Brexit reveals some errors of conduct and foretells of serious complications.
Firstly for Great Britain. By wanting to unify his party David Cameron has disunited the Kingdom. Britons are now divided, long term. Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the City are all equally burning issues to be solved, and that's without reckoning with the economic and social consequences of this purely political divorce.
Then for the European Union itself. Indifference on the part of national leaders has meant that its management has swum with the tide for the last twenty years, its policies challenged, its functioning criticised, its goals brought into question. As soon as the results of the British referendum were made public a thousand and one voices could be heard calling for the Union's re-design, its transformation or its reform. We should now be happy that national political actors are finally paying attention to this structure is at the core of national issues.
The People's Party (PP) led by the President of the outgoing government Mariano Rajoy came out ahead in the parliamentary elections that took place on 26th June in Spain. It won 33% of the vote and 137 seats (+14 in comparison with the previous election on 20th December last) in the Congreso, the lower chamber of parliament. It came out ahead of the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) led by Pedro Sanchez who, contrary to forecasts by the pre-election polls, remained the country's second most important party winning 22.66% of the vote, the second lowest score in its history, and 85 seats (- 5). Unidos Podemos, the alliance of Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, and the United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU), led by Alberto Garzon, won 21.26% of the vote and 71 seats. Both parties won 24.40% of the vote together on 20th December last and 71 seats. Finally Ciudadanos (C's) led by Alberto Rivera won 13% of the vote and 32 seats (- 8).
The two new political parties in Spain are finally the losers in this election.
Turnout was one of the lowest ever recorded: 69.84% of the electorate turned out to vote.
On 23rd June Britons decided to leave the European Union. To the question they were asked (Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? a majority of voters (51.9%) answered "leave" whilst 48.1% voted to remain. Turnout totalled 72.2%
The Spanish Parliamentary elections of 20th December did not enable the formation of a clear majority government and so the Spanish are being called to ballot again on 26th June. According to the most recent poll by IBES, published on 26th May the People's Party is due to come out ahead with 30% of the vote, followed by Unidos Podemos with 25%, 5 points ahead of the PSOE therefore (20%). Ciudadanos is due to win 14% of the vote. The most recent polls show a rise in abstention. This might strengthen Mariano Rajoy's People's Party.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to organise a referendum in 2017 on the issue of the UK's place in the EU: "Do you think that the UK should remain in the European Union or leave the European Union?" The question of the UK's status within the European Union is one of the issues at stake in the latter's development. The Robert Schuman Foundation offers its readers an information file on the main questions set by the referendum as well as the options open to the UK if it leaves the EU.
In an editorial on his site, Jean-Dominique Giuliani expresses his concern about the rise of violence in public debate as shown in the British referendum campaign.
The UK already functions according to a system that largely exempts it from the EU's policies in the area of justice and home affairs. If it decided to stay in the European Union following the referendum on 23rd June this specific system of exceptional arrangements would continue to apply. If the UK exits the EU it will have to settle its relations with the Union. But it would no longer be able to influence the content of the Union's laws.
On 31st May, the Foundation organised a debate in Paris with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
Between January and November 2015, the agency Frontex noted 1.2 million illegal crossings of the EU's external border, i.e. four times that of 2014. In October 2015 given the inability of the Member States to respond to the challenge of managing these migratory flows, Germany, with the support of the European Commission, encouraged cooperation with Turkey.
Economic governance is revealing its weaknesses, which, in turn is undermining the integration of Economic and Monetary Union. The solutions to remedy the situation comprise a decisive institutional step forward in the establishment of a European Finance Minister to lead economic governance, to lead the euro zone along the path to sustained growth, whilst simultaneously ensuring that economies draw closer together.
Former spokesperson for the ecologist party (1997-2008), Alexander Van der Bellen (Die Grüne - DG) finally won the 2nd round of the presidential election in Austria on 23rd May after a tense 24 h wait. He won 50.3% of the vote against 49.7% for Norbert Hofer (FPÖ). He will take office on 8th July next.
The Democratic Rally (DISY) the party of President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, won in the general elections that took place in Cyprus on 22nd May with 30.68% of the vote and 18 seats.
For a better understanding of the challenges facing Europeans today: the refugee question, immigration, euro area reform, investment, growth, employment, taxation, the danger of a "Brexit", populism, energy transition, but also the new strategic context in the southern Mediterranean and in the East of the continent and terrorism. Never has Europe faced so many questions. The most eminent personalities and the best experts have chosen to contribute to the "Schuman Report 2016 on the State of the Union" now on sale in bookshops and on the Foundation's site in paper and digital form.
The repeated drownings in the Mediterranean have led to an emergency situation regarding the European migratory question. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 1,750 migrants perished in the Mediterranean between January and April 2015, ie more than 30 times the figure in the same period in 2014. Given these repeated catastrophes an extraordinary European Council was organised on 23rd April and ten new measures were put forward on 20th April by the European Commission including stepping up surveillance operations and rescue at sea. The Robert Schuman Foundation is offering its readers an information file on the theme of immigration, that brings together its publications on this issue in order to review the development of these events in Europe.