World News: The European Union Growing Pains Revisited

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If Brexit has long occupied the minds of Europeans, it has also obscured the difficulties and misunderstandings between Brussels and certain Eastern European countries unwilling to respect the fundamental principles of the Union.

It will therefore now be necessary to think of twenty-seven and no longer of twenty-eight as was the case until then. Today the European Union finds itself liberated from the United Kingdom, which entered the European Economic Community in 1972 to put an end to the economic crisis which hit it to leave the European Union in the1st January 2021, gripped by another economic crisis…. The irony of history that this British avatar.

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London had wanted to join the Common Market because it considered the exchanges which animated it to be profitable for its economy and left it because it has considered for many years that the rules which condition them have become too strict. However, it is not a question here of going back to the reasons which motivated the United Kingdom to leave the European Union but rather of focusing on what will become of the twenty-seven and how they will invent a new life.

But while some thought that the departure of the United Kingdom would relieve the European Union, which was not without foundation in view of the fierce negotiations which have long prevailed between London and Brussels, many also realize that other problems will arise in the years and even months to come.

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With the British question settled, the East European quartet made up of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia could thus quickly be included in the menu of the difficulties to be overcome by the Union to ensure its cohesion and its functioning. .

Mechanics and Health Crisis

Because, unlike the United Kingdom, which wanted to sever its links with the Union on the pretext of economic rules deemed too restrictive, the previously mentioned nations have cleverly merged into European mechanics to become today, if not heavyweights, at least countries attentive to the defense of their own or common interests, and have no intention of leaving an economic and diplomatic unit that they have long wanted to integrate.

However, it is not so much the economic aspect that poses real difficulties to Brussels to date, but the rather authoritarian character that these nations present and this in total contradiction with the fundamental principles defended by the various European Treaties (Rome, Maastricht, Nice and Lisbon).

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And, a new irony of history, while Europeans never really understood the reasons which pushed the British to leave the Union, the years to come could see these same Europeans putting forward others so that the troublemakers Eastern Europeans are heading for the exit.

Unlikely to date in view of the global health crisis which has come to disrupt the daily lives of States, the question of the dismissal of certain countries incompatible with European principles could emerge if the Union does not manage to reason with the most demanding nations or radicals such as Poland or Hungary. These East European nations, placed under the yoke of the Soviet Union from 1945 until 1989, went through long years of economic and social crisis before joining the European Union in 2004 which appeared to them as an El Dorado doubled as a lifeline.

Accelerator and Modus Vivendi

But almost fifty years of communism had forged reflexes and habits for some to the opposite of the West European functioning. And the tension accelerator represented by the coronavirus crisis, the future economic impacts and the potential identity retreats that could emerge from fear of the unknown or of the loss of influence or power, real or supposed, are so many factors capable of exacerbating the existing friction between Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, Ljubljana and Brussels.

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For the time being, the misunderstandings that have arisen have always been resolved in favor of a modus vivendi with which all the players have been able to be satisfied. Certainly. But for how long?

The British example, which also highlighted the limits of the European Union despite an agreement generally favorable to Brussels, will leave traces in the history of the Union.

However, the current misunderstandings, suppressed under cover of arrangements of circumstances, are always able to reappear and make the Union face up to its responsibilities: Show rigidity by dismissing countries incompatible with European fundamentals; avoid the crisis by keeping them but also losing a form of credibility. It only remains to wait for the story to play out ...


Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.



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