The future looks gloomy for Europe. The centre ground of politics is crumbling in favour of radicalism on the left and right; for the first time ever, the European Union will lose a member as Britain begins the Brexit process; relations with Russia are at their worst since the Cold War; terrorism remains a very real threat (something tragically illustrated by the recent attack in Britain); authoritarianism is on the rise, and “strong men” are weakening checks and balances on power in countries both outside the EU and within it.
Saturday 25 March 2017 will mark the 60th anniversary since the Treaty of Rome was signed. On that day in 1957, the European Economic Community (precursor to today’s European Union) came into being. Ahead of the anniversary, the European Commission has published a White Paper on the Future of Europe, setting out five possible scenarios.
- Scenario 1: Carrying On – Nothing major changes. The EU continues tinkering around the edges, but pursues no major architectural reforms. Essentially, this is the ‘status quo’ option.
- Scenario 2: Nothing but the Single Market – A common refrain from eurosceptics is that the EU has its fingers in too many pies. Over the years, it’s undeniable that the scope of European integration has expanded to include more and more policy areas. Could it be stripped back to the basics?
- Scenario 3: Those Who Want More Do More – This is the so-called “multi-speed” model, with different EU Member States integrating at different speeds. Those who want to do more in specific areas such as defence, internal security or social matters are able to form “coalitions of the willing” to do so, excluding those countries that want to hang back (or aren’t able to integrate fast enough).
- Scenario 4: Doing Less More Efficiently – Similar to scenario 2, this would see the number of policy areas dealt with by the European Union being trimmed. However, it would not focus solely on trade and economic matters, and might even include further integration in those areas the EU does continue to focus on.
- Scenario 5: Doing Much More Together – The so-called “federal option”. This scenario would see a push for deeper integration across the board, with a faster and more effective decision-making structure put into place so that the EU can respond quickly to challenges.
So, which scenario would you favour? Should there be a ‘multi-speed’ Europe, with some countries integrating at a faster pace than others? Should the EU do less, but more efficiently? Is it time for a United States of Europe? Or should the EU be nothing but the Single Market? Let us know your thoughts and comments on the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!