Logically the analysis of the European Union's interests should not be a problem. Due to Europe's position in the world, its action in terms of the major challenges facing our societies and its profile within major international organisations, it is quite easy to establish a strategic agenda for the Union without this causing any controversy. Frequently then in the past this exercise has been successfully undertaken. But the reality of the matter is that beyond such descriptions, which are often for academic use, European players, Member States and institutions - have hardly felt concerned by such agendas, since the feeling of common European interest is still weakly shared, if not contested, by the those who primarily look to their own interests. In order to be operational or real Europe's common interests have to be perceived and accepted as such by the Europeans themselves. The problem is that they often seem to be the last ones to be able or to want to do so.
On 30th August the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) did not manage to elect the new president in replacement of Toomas Hendrik Ilves who has completed his second mandate. After three rounds of voting neither Siim Kallas nor Mailis Reps managed to rally two thirds of the vote. The Electoral College (Valimiskogu) met on 24th September but failed to elect a president. A new election is planned in the Riigikogu on 3rd October.
The issue of immigration have never been as high on the political agenda of European democracies since the migratory crisis, significant since the beginning of the 2000's, erupted due to the increased flows of Syrian refugees coming from Turkey and Lebanon, and the worsening conflict in Libya, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Kurdistan. This crisis, in its premise, as well as in its development, seems to be affecting European public opinion and is contributing towards the political and electoral strengthening of national-populism in Europe.
The next general elections will take place in Lithuania on 9th and 23rd October. The Seimas, the only chamber in parliament, comprises 141 members, elected every four years according to a mix voting method. The most recent poll forecast a win for the Social Democratic Party (LSP) of outgoing Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius with 17.2% of the vote ahead of the Farmers' and Greens Party (LVZS) 13.4%, the Homeland Union-Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), 10.7%, the Labor Party (DP), 6.6%; the Liberal Movement (LRLS) 6.3% and For Order and Justice (TT) 5.1%. The formation of a government coalition comprising three or four parties will be inevitable.
In an editorial published on his site, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, the Foundation's President explores the conditions for a revival in Europe.
The HDZ won the general election in Croatia on 11th September with 36.6% of the vote and 61 seats of the 151 in Parliament. The social democrats of the SPD in coalition with other parties only won 33.5% and 54 seats. Most came third with 9.8% and 13 seats followed by Zivi zid with 8 sets. Turnout totalled 52.59%. Since it did not win the absolute majority the HDZ will have to form a coalition government.
The major challenges facing the Europeans - such as terrorism, the migratory crisis, and differently "Brexit" as well as the rise of anti-European populism - call for the redesign and revival of the integration of a united Europe . These various challenges should not be treated separately, in a fragmented manner but rather put in perspective and addressed in a structured way. They all bring into play the Europeans' ability to rise together to overcome the series of crises they are facing. However unity cannot be taken for granted. Indeed extremely strong political tension is threatening the cohesion and stability of the European Union.
The Austrians are being called to ballot for an unprecedented "3rd round" in the presidential election, the previous two rounds of which took place on 24th April and 22nd May. Alexander van der Bellen (The Greens, DG) won the 2nd round with 30,863 votes more than his rival Norbert Höfer (Liberal Party, FPÖ) who then challenged the results. On July 1st the Austrian Constitutional Court annulled the second round indicating that although there was no proof of electoral fraud, irregularities might have marred the election. The re-run will be held on November 27 or December 4.
Europeans value the fact that the continent is in peace; that it is the world's leading single market and, thanks to its common trade policy, it is also the world's leading force in terms of exports and imports. They take this for granted. They are fully aware that the globalised world in which we live is creating challenges that the European States, even the biggest of these, cannot rise to alone. They are suffering from acute problems. They believe that the European Union, although having declared that it has ambitious economic, monetary and immigration goals, has managed the crises in these areas badly and it is not helping to solve them. This is especially why Europe has been experiencing a rise in nationalism and populism. What options are there to change this situation and for Europe to become popular again?
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.
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.
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.