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 Foundation has published a European Interview with Jean-Paul Perruche, Lieutenant General (2S), Chairman of EuroDefénse-France and member of the Foundation's Scientific Committee. He reviews future priorities whilst the 28 heads of State and government are to adopt an updated European security strategy at the end of June.
45 year-old Norbert Hofer (Liberal Party, FPÖ), the "3rd leader" of the National Council (Nationalrat), the lower chamber in the Austrian parliament, whose present leader is Doris Bures (SPÖ), came out ahead in the first round of the presidential election on 24th April in Austria.
He won 36.40% of the vote, i.e. the highest result for this far right party in a national election, drawing ahead of the former spokesperson for the Green Party (1997-2008), Alexander Van der Bellen (The Greens, DG), who won 20.38% of the vote. The former judge at the Supreme Court, known for having chaired a parliamentary investigative committee into the corruption scandal involving the Hypo Group Alpe Adria Bank; Irmgard Griss won 18.52% of the vote, a first in terms of the score achieved by an "independent".
With the consultation by the Commission, hearings at the European Parliament, corporate involvement and petitions, the status of China as a market economy is the focus of debate in Brussels. The temporary application (15 years) of specifically restrictive anti-dumping measures will soon be coming to an end. 12th December 2016 now seems to be a Damocles sword now seems to be hanging over many European businesses - two legal systems - that of the WTO and that of the EU - are struggling to work in harmony.
6.3 million Austrians aged 16 and over are being called to ballot on 24th April next to appoint the next president of the Republic. Six people are officially running. According to the polls none of the candidates are due to win outright on 24th April. If this does in fact happen then a second round will take place on 22nd May.
The Dutch rejected the Association Treaty between the European Union and Ukraine on 6th April in a consultative referendum. Only 38.41% voted "yes" in the popular consultation in which only 32.2% of the Dutch went to ballot. This "unique" situation raises both legal and political questions.
In an editorial published on his site on 4th April, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, the Foundation's Chairman calls on the States of Europe to do more in terms of defence to rise to present security challenges.
Since the start of the crisis thought about the reform to implement has been limited to the framework of the euro zone and to the response to provide to the deficit of political accountability that is affecting the democratic legitimacy of decision making at this level. But the challenge regarding democratic legitimacy being made to the European Union cannot just be restricted to the euro zone alone, nor can it be reduced to the simple question of accountability.
During the general elections which took place on 26th February in Ireland, Fine Gael, led by outgoing Prime Minister Enda Kenny, won 25.52% of the vote and 50 seats. It drew ahead of Fianna Fail which won 24.3% and 44 seats, Sinn Fein 13.8% and 23 seats, the Labour Party 6.9% and 7 seats, the Alliance against Austerity-People Before Profits (AAA-PBP), 3.9% and 5 seats, the Social Democrats 3% and 3 seats and the Green Party 2.72% and 2 seats. The Independent Alliance (IA) won 4.2% and 6 seats, whilst the independent candidates won 13% and 17 seats. Forming a government is going to be difficult. Will Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, which have governed Ireland alternately since 1930, form a coalition?
The People's Party (PP) of outgoing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy came out ahead in the parliamentary elections that took place on 20th December in Spain. With 28.72% of the vote, the party won 123 seats in the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, i.e. 63 less than in the previous parliamentary elections that took place on 20th November 2011. The PP also won 124 seats in the Senate (12 less). The PP was followed by the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), led by Pedro Sanchez, which won 22.01% of the vote and 90 seats (20 less) and 47 Senators (1 less).
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.
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.