German leadership in EU mulitcrisis era

Anna van Densky OPINION The German presidency of the Council of the European Union takes lead on 1 July 2020 in the context of the global COVID-19 crisis, and the EU ante-pandemic challanges, which have been already serious enough to be assessed as the “existential” threats to the organisation.

The first half of the year the global COVID-19 context has been negatively impacting long existing EU challenges, namely the well-known process of post-Brexit talks with the United Kingdom, aiming to produce an agreement to diminish damages to the European economies of “hard” Brexit; and not less significant EU agreement on the future seven year budget (multiannual financial framework) for the 27 members strong bloc without the UK – the second net contributor.

None of the ante-COVID19 challenges seem to be diminishing, on contrary, the Brexit talks are in libmo, so is the future budget, dividing the EU in groups of wealthy countries of the North, and indebted Mediterranean – pre-existing North-South divide is becoming even more dramatic after pandemic. The so-called “Frugal Four” – Austria, Denmark, Finland and The Netherlands – will hardly change their minds in favour of the South, reflecting the will of their citizens. Finanical Ice Age approaching, will the EU, especially the Visegrad East European countries, withstand it? They have been used to recipient role within the organisation, and they might object to any other.

However outside the EU the challenges are not less impressive: it is on the November 3 Americans will go to ballot boxes to elect their new President, producing a long-lasting effect on the entire set of international relations, and global development.

The EU dialogue with Russia, a former “strategic partner” and well-establish American foe is also on the brink, plagued in different dimensions internationally both by the conflict in Donbass, and U.S. sanctions blocking the construction of final 160 km of Nord Stream 2 pipeline, delivering gas via the sea from Russia to Germany.

The energy issues, and conflict are not limited to the EU Eastern borders, because the situation in the Mediterranean became even more alarming with the new Turkish assertiveness, pursuing gaz drilling in Cyprus waters, and casually threatening with massive release of migrants to Greece.

Migrants! And here we come to a sensitive issue, because still there is public opinion, blaming the German Chancellor her generous invitation to “all refugees”, which created the notorious migrant crisis in 2015 – swinging in a few months from Willkommenskultur to Flushtilingskrise. Since then there have been no acute migrant crisis of the similar scale, but an ongoing political systemic crisis over the issue, without unanimously agreed strategy towards exterior migration flows into EU, splitting the Union into antagonising communities. So far the Visegrad 4 group of East European countries firmly rejects the reception of migrants, occasionally ready to allocate funds.

In January this year, addressing Davos, Angela Merkel said, that it was a mistake to miss out of view the refugees as a direct consequence of conflict, and not to create an environment, where people can stay, without need to flee. Concluding German migrant experience, Angela Merkel, warned about possible next wave of refugees caused by military actions in Libya. But reflecting upon Chancellors’s words, there is no secret that solidarity does not really work in the realm of migration issues, and in post-pandemic period the migrant/refugee unsolved problem will re-emerge again. The only element about migration is consensual among member-states: Dublin system is obsolete. Will German presidency produce a new migration package in co-operation with the European Commission? The escalating conflict in Libya, and growing terrorist threat in Sahel, might create in the nearest future a significant pressure of migrant flows via Mediterranean route, resulting in raise of the eurosceptic moods in the Member-States.

The German presidency of EU will also ‘crown’ personally Angela Merkel’s fourth and final term of leadership after 15 years in the Federal Chancellery. Well-known for her capacity of reaching compromises, erecting solid political consturctions through multilateral agreements, she is expected to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis of the EU politics. Will Macron-Merkel initiative put forward on May 2020 – the stimulus fund – become a further step for European integration, solidifying the seamless transnational market enshrined by Kohl-Mitterand in Maastricht Treaty? Or the Eurosceptic forces will start pulling it apart, fragmenting and polarising communities, and the European nations, attempting to find the solutions to systemic crisises in individual ways?..

Whatever the outcome of German presidency will be, the decisions taken within next six months will shape the live of the next generation of Europeans and model the face of Europe up to the mid of the 21 century in a unique irreversible way.

Image: Angela Merkel, EU Council, archive

EU migrant “children” syndrome

Anna van Densky OPINON German government appeals for compassion of Europeans, calling for creation of coalition of willing to shelter “children” from Greek migrant camps. However similar to the situation of the previous wave on migrants in 2015 there is no criteria of determining age of an individual, claiming to be a child.

The overwhelming majority of migrants and their children have no birth certificate not because they have lost it, or, as some sceptics presume, they have thrown documents away, but because there is no established practice of population registry in their countries of origin. Subsequently their birth certificates or passports have been never issued in first place, and while arriving to Europe they are not passing any procedures to determine their physical age.

For obvious reasons the parents are interested to present information, helping their children and themselves to leave the camps as soon as possible for more comfortable locations. Nowadays in total absence of medical checks, any narrative can pass as Europeans have discovered, when the Swedish social worker Alexandra Mezher, 22, was stabbed to death in ‘child‘ refugee centre, by a Somalianminor“, who in the cause of prosecution has been identified as an adult.

The victim complained to her family that being a professional in child care she is confronted with the situation of being a guardian of “big powerful guys aged up to 24“.

However they are not only security reasons which are completely neglected by the EU-member states Interior ministries, but the whole set of socially meaningful consequences, deriving from a natural migrant impulse to diminish the age of a child: it will not only allow to benefit longer from allocation of children alimony, but also impact the future of the family, allowing them to reunite on European soil.

The plan set by Angela Merkel to help a group of 1,000 – 1,500 children identified as being “particularly in need“, transferring them from Greek camps to the EU will also open gates for their parents and other underaged siblings to come to Europe.

The decision of sheltering unaccompanied children under the age of 14 or
children in need of urgent medical assistance in accordance with Merkel plan will provoke further abuse of children as “keys” to enter the EU.

Meanwhile the Dutch government made public its position indicating to absence of any plans to host migrant children from Greek camps to the Netherlands. However the goverment is prepared to contribute to initiatives to improve the situation in the camps, Prime minister Mark Rutte said on March 6.

The decision is based in lack of enthusiasm the proposal met in the parliament last week when the four coalition partners plus far right and Christian parties voted against a motion which would have committed the Netherlands to accepting migrant children.

Dutch refugee NGOs have called on local authorities to ‘show leadership and generosity’ by bringing 500 “refugee children” from Greece to the Netherlands because they are currently living in appalling conditions.

However there was some response on the municipality level: the city of Leiden was first to express readiness to accept some of the children – around 25 according to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

We are talking about children whose parents have died or are missing and who are living on Lesbos in terrible conditions,’ mayor Henri Lenferink said on the same day of March 6. ‘Leiden has always been a city of refugees and I am fully confident we will be able to look after these children properly.’ Greece asked EU countries to take in 2,500 children last October.

Turkey currently hosts over four million migrants, many of whom are claiming refugee status, and the EU is committed to assist Ankara in dealing with this challenge. The EU
Facility for Refugees in Turkey is committed to assist Turkey in dealing with this challenge. The EU Facility for Refugees Turkey, managing a total of two tranches provides for a joint coordination mechanism, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities. Apparently the President Erdogan finds the pledged funds of
EUR6 billion insufficient.

EU top jobs Council meets again on June 30

European Union leaders will meet again on June 30 to seek agreement for distribution of the EU top jobs.

There was no majority for any candidate,” Council president Donald Tusk told a press conference. “We will meet again on June 30.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to define her strategy in coming week, she said she will inform European People’s party and Manfred Weber about the findings of Donald Tusk report: none of the political families Spitzenkandidaten managed to get sufficient support. At the Summit Tusk was mandates to launch a new round of negociations with the European Parliament to define new candidates to be presented on Sunday at a special Summit.

Earlier French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Spitzenkandidaten system, underlining it is not in the EU Treaty, and moreover those who promote it, refuse transnational lists for European elections, which he saw as contradiction.

A new Commission president must receive a clear majority of national leaders, and also acceptance of the new European Parliament, which will have the first Plenary session in Strasbourg on July 2.

Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg

Brexit Summit or Article 50 Fata-Morgana

Anna van Densky OPINION The House of Commons approved Theresa May‘s postponed Brexit deadline until June 30, which the British Prime minister will defend today at the European Council in Brussels. The text was approved by 420 MPs against 110.

The leader of Brexit party Nigel Farage has been ironical about  the upcoming meeting referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the “bossBritish Prime Minister is going to consult.

However there is a clear message from Brussels to the Westminster – there will be no other deal, but the endorsed one, although the additional political declarations are possible. No need to add that they are not legally binding, and are not an integral part of the Article 50 Agreement.

In fact the additional time, if given to May government, is granted for making an extra effort to pass a the deal via the Westminster. The entire political struggle is about changing perception not the essence of the Agreement reached.

Shifting of the deadline to the end of June 2019, as President Macron is intended to offer, will result in participation of the UK in the EU parliamentary elections, because there is such an obligation for a member-state in the Treaty. (Image above : Europarliament, Strasbourg). In case the Remainers win a majority of seats among UK MEPs in the European Parliament, they will have an opportunity to reverse the Brexit process in a different ways: postponing further or calling for the second referendum. As Theresa May warned – the rejection of her deal might also mean never leaving the EUBrexit will be gradually transformed into elusive Fata-Morgana.

 

 

EU Xmas without soul

At present only for a split of Europeans Christmas is about a church going, but for the overwhelming majority, it is a family reunion, and a holiday time: sumptuous dinner, and presents with ribbons under decorated tree. The EU leaders have not much different from the citizens views on the ancient celebration of Jesus Nativity.

On Christmas Eve only one EU leader openly associated himself with the festivity – the president of the European Council Polish Donald Tusk, who even posted a video of him singing a carol on the occasion.

The European Parliament president Antonio Tajani mentioned the Nativity of Jesus celebrations in the context of Christmas shopping, while the president of the Commission JeanClaude Juncker did not mention it in his Twitter micro blog at all.

The attitude shows further detachment of the EU project from the original dream of Robert Schuman to create a “community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian basic values’.  The European project “can not and must not remain an economic and technical enterprise; it needs a soul, the conscience of its historical affinities and of its responsibilities In the present and in the future, and a political will at the service of the same human ideal’ he wrote.

Following Schuman‘s footsteps the president of the European Commission Jacques Delors  also openly practiced his Catholic faith, disregarding the EU secular nature. warning that the project has to develop a ‘soul of Europe‘ to inspire the citizens, because with material dimension only it runs high risk of collapse. The “game will be up” he said if the EU will not develop “spirituality and meaning”.

Next devote Catholics in position of leadership were Belge  Herman van Rompuy, the president of the EU Council,  who reportedly is a Jesuit regularly visiting to monasteries, and the speaker of the European Parliament Polish Jerzy Buzek, who also did no hide his devotion.

However the overwhelming number of the EU citizens identify themselves as Christians (76.2% Pew Research 2010), and most probably the majority of the European Parliament politicians too,  at least they made such an impression, when they welcomed the Argentinian Pope Francis (2014) in the European Parliament, Strasbourg. Although the visit raised brows of many critics questioning if the EU as a secular project should give a floor to a clergyman, especially after Lisbon Treaty, underlining the secular nature of the EU project.

The ongoing ambivalence is also reflected in the culture of political parties, because the leading political force in Europe is the Christian Democrats-Peoples Party. And it was Chancellor Angela Merkel, a daughter of pastor, who said:  “we don’t have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity”, responding to the citizens complaints. Curiously both  European most powerful leaders are daughters of clergymen: Merkel and May. British Prime minister confirmed during a radio emission that Christian faith ‘is part” of her. “It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things’ Theresa May added. However she always preferred to keep her faith as a part of private life, strictly separated from politics.

While the EU leaders adapt their communications to secular trend, and modern vision of religion as a matter of private life, the Christians remain the most persecuted community in the world. The report issued the beginning of this year claimed 250 million of Christians are facing threats. According to the latest Watch List researchers estimate 1 in 12 Christians live where their faith is “illegal, forbidden, or punished.” 2018 World Watch List,  reported the previous year 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, 1,020 raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches were attacked.

North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, – a few to mention in a list of 50 countries across the world where Christians face threats, or are under extinction.

However, on Xmas Eve the EU strictly secular leaders prefer to keep silence, point to good shopping, or at maximum post a video of their own performance of a Christmas carol song, while the millions of people suffering the most outrages violation of their freedom of religion. Their unwillingness to pay attention to the problems of persecuted Christians looks like the worst of Jacques Delors nightmare – Europe without soul.

Christian map

 

EU: Muslim migrants not welcome

eu-migrants

OPINION: Recent Chatham House survey shows growing opposition of the European citizens to the EU open door policy, imposing millions of illegal migrants to be taken care of by the local communities.  Unlike the EU establishment the citizens are not prepared to provide for growing number of arriving from Muslim countries, unwilling to integrate.

The European nationalist parties at raise say that the integration is not good enough any more, but should be replace by the assimilation, respecting the values, traditions and customs of the receiving society.
The leading candidate for French presidency, Marine Le Pen said that she would abolish double citizenship for non-EU countries, and request the respect to French Republican values for all residence in the country. The similar programmes are successfully promoted by the other European nationalist parties,  capturing the moods of the tax-payers, exausted by the problmes created by the mass migration from the Musim countries,
spreading their own traditions and customs of Middle Ages on modern Western societies.
However, even in case Marine Le Pen loses the election the anti-mass migration moods became too strong to ignore after the series of terrorist acts in Europe in 2016.
The attempts of the Socialist and centre-right politicians to  detach terrorism from Islam failed, undermining trust between the establishment, official mass-media and the electorate, believing to be manipulated for purposes having noting in common with its own interest.
Among reasons of imposing mass migration on Europeans the most often are cited the eagerness of the Socialists to import the electorate, and the desire of the Liberals to destroy the nation-states  to create the United States of Europe, a huge market of consumers. At some point both Liberals and Socialists interests coincide, using the mass migration as a tool to break the status quo pushing forward their own agenda.
It is likely the current mood of anti-mass migration is here to stay, meaning that the proponents of the open-door policy will have to leave stage in upcoming elections. The words of President Trump calling chancellor’s Merkel decision to receive migrants was a ‘catastrophic’ mistake, which destroyed the EU project,  are proven to be true by the current survey. The abuse of solidarity, the abuse of hospitality, the abuse of freedom, – all of them bore bitter fruit. And above it all the security problem the radical Islam casts on European societies in day lives can not be tolarated any more.
The survey of Chatham House proves what many sensed intuitively – the 2017 will become a year of “Reconquista” – the much-anticipated return of Europeans to their Christian roots. Viva Hantington!
Brussels