From its accession to the EU in 2004, the Czech Republic has been among the most eurosceptic member states. As Czechs head to the polls on October 20-21, they are likely to elect a parliament composed primarily of eurosceptic parties, meaning a 4-year headache for Brussels.
Rather than inspiring a constructive attitude to Brexit talks in Brussels, Theresa May’s Florence speech generated yet more calls for “clarity”, and that “sufficient progress” be made before talks could advance. This lacklustre EU position is not the result of sincere consideration of May’s proposals. Rather, it looks a lot more like a deliberate tactic to either prevent Brexit, or punish Britain.
French President Emmanuel Macron laid out his vision for European integration in a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Chief among his suggestions were a pan-Eurozone budget, pan-EU lists at the next European parliamentary election, and even a big step toward an EU military. In order to achieve any of these goals, Macron must gain approval from Germany, the bloc’s largest, most powerful member. With its recent election producing a fractured German parliament, the French President’s ambitions are set to meet a formidable roadblock.
Regardless of who wins the most seats in October’s parliamentary election, it is safe to say that the next Austrian government will be equally as hawkish on borders, and at least as likely to circumvent the EU when it deems necessary.
More democracy is never a bad thing, especially in the case of opaque organisations such as the EU. However, attempts to engineer pan-EU democratic institutions ignore a key factor preventing them from ever working: there is no European demos.
With the Catalan independence referendum fast approaching, there are still many unknowns. Will Catalans be able to vote? If they do, will they vote for independence? If yes, will Catalonia leave the EU? Of all the paths to European disintegration, Catalan independence is certainly the wildcard, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Financial markets and diplomatic circles see the German election as a safe bet, with little threat of a eurosceptic revolt. But what Germany lacks in explicit euroscepticism it makes up for in implicit euroscepticism. In short, Germans are often unaware of how eurosceptic they really are.
In recent travels and public statements, Ireland’s new Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar has made clear he is no friend of Brexit. By toying with brinkmanship he betrays a shallow appreciation for his nation’s historically close relationship with the UK. Rather than cross his arms and lament the democratic choice of Britons, Varadkar needs to mature as a political representative and deal with his neighbours in good faith.
With Article 50 triggered and Brexit negotiations well underway, the UK government looks like it’s carrying out the instructions it received from 17.4 million voters last summer. Nevertheless, a growing threat hangs over Brexit Britain.
Seven decades without armed conflict between major powers is something to be celebrated. However, the notion that lasting peace in Europe is thanks to the gradual federalisation of European nations is contestable at best, and dangerous at worst. If anything, today’s EU is fuelling more conflict across the continent than it resolves.