The negotiations in which the Greek government was obliged to participate has illustrated the inane nature of the myths put forward by the extremists on both the left and right regarding democracy in Europe, about "austerity", and the supposed German domination. Reality also shines through especially when default is just around the corner.
Is the European Union seen as a democratic space? Are its institutions seen to function effectively? And finally what place is there for any intermediary organisations in this new definition of European democracy? The democratic divide between the political world and its citizens is the focus of public debate now more than ever before. There is a fear of losing status, a feeling of exclusion from places of power and by those who occupy that space: it has to be admitted that a feeling of mistrust now reigns within European civil society. Disenchantment with Europe is not inevitable however. Solutions can be found to revive citizen enthusiasm, to encourage their renewed acceptance of the European cause and of the project for society which this implies. This means reconciling economic and social results.
During the first semester of 2015 Latvia ensured the presidency of the Council of the European Union. After this period Laimdota Straujuma, Latvia's Prime Minister gives the Foundation her impressions and recalls the questions addressed during the presidency (Eastern Partnership, investment plan, digital market, data protection etc.).
In an interview Alain Lamassoure, MEP, Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Tax Rulings (TAXE) reviews the main economic issues of the moment for the Robert Schuman Foundation. He recalls the progress made regarding transparency and financial regulation in Europe but that there is still a great deal to do.
The "Juncker Plan" to revive investment is one of the points on the agenda of the European Council on 24th and 25th June. This economic, financial but also political intitiative taken forward by the President of the Commission has apparently been the focus of bitter debate in Parliament and the Council. It is due to enter into force this summer. Olivier Marty reviews the points debated during the trilogue for the Foundation and assesses the agreement that was reached. He then analyses the constructive nature of the discussions undertaken by those involved. Finally he discusses the economic environment in which the plan will be implemented.
30 years after its signature on 14th June 1985, the Schengen agreement, which set up an area for the free movement of people, is fundamental to the building of Europe. It is an example of cooperation that combined at the outset a small number of States before being extended within the framework of treaties, whilst allowing participation by States that are not members of the European Union. The Foundation publishes a study by Philippe Deivet that draws up a report on this cooperation and insists on the challenges ahead. Confronted with challenges that are without precedent within a context of profound destabilisation amongst its neighbours, the Schengen area must be strengthened in order to ensure effective control of its external borders whilst responding to the humanitarian emergency.
Developments in terms of world security have dangerously weakened the defence systems of the countries of Europe. An increase in conflicts and threats on the borders of Europe together with a regular risky decrease in European defence budgets over the past 20 years, as well as an inevitable disengagement on the part of the USA are the reasons behind this. This uncertain situation is taking us towards a pooling of forces and capabilities within the European Union, but it has to be acknowledged that to date the States' political will has been lacking. EuroDéfense-France highlights the interest in drafting a European White Paper on Security and Defence and examines the conditions of its feasibility, it identifies the obstacles to overcome and also the opportunities to seize. The authors put forward an outline and possible prospects.
The hypothesis whereby the UK might leave the European Union still seems unlikely in the eyes of most. It has become plausible however. Indeed British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that if his party remains in office after the general elections on 7th May, a referendum will be organised on the possible Brexit by the end of 2017 at the latest. Jean-Claude Piris gives a detailed legal analysis of the various possible options and their consequences for the UK and the European Union.
Is 2015, the year of recovery for Europe? The fresh election of the Union's political institutions offers an exceptional opportunity for a better understanding of future issues: strengthening of the euro zone, the position of France and the UK in Europe, regional secessionism, growth and employment, investment and financing of the European economy, Energy Union, immigration, terrorism, European Defence and security challenges in the east and south, transatlantic issues etc... These questions form the core of the Schuman Report 2015. This work of reference is for both decision makers and observers of the European Union, a source of analysis and original proposals, supported by a requirement for rigour and quality. It is a vital tool for a full panorama of European policy. Available in good bookshops, as an e-book and on the Foundation's site.