The reunification of Europe after 1989 was one of the great achievements of the post-1945 era. The countries of Eastern and Central Europe were finally free to join the Euro-Atlantic organizations of NATO and the European Union. When Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, later joining the E.U. in 2004 along with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, there was jubilation across the region. Those were heady days.
That euphoria has long since faded. The global financial crisis of 2008 took a heavy toll on economic growth and the pace of integration. But now the E.U. countries from the former East Bloc appear to have bounced back.… Seguir leyendo »
Relations between the United States and the European Union are at an all-time low. Since becoming president, Donald Trump has done everything possible to undermine the unity of the bloc and question its principles. He has walked away from agreements on climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and trade. He pours scorn on the E.U.’s antitrust regulations, claiming they are about hurting U.S. tech companies. He supports Brexit and praises the populist, anti-migration policies of Hungary and Poland.
Much of his criticism targets Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel. He blames her for Europe’s migration crisis and accuses her of using trade policies to boost German exports, especially cars to the U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are planning to swap territory. They say it will ease ethnic tensions and contribute to stability in the western Balkans. Some commentators and politicians think it is a great idea.
Don’t bet on it. The proposals present enormous risks — not only for the countries themselves but also for the broader region. Indeed, they could set an ominous precedent for leaders who harbor separatist ambitions.
What Kosovo President Hashim Thaci refers to as a “border adjustment” could easily prompt nationalists in this part of Europe to demand similar changes. It could offer destructive inspiration to Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, where nationalist movements and some of the leaders yearn to have their own ethnically homogeneous countries.… Seguir leyendo »
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has just set a new low for Europe’s standing in the world. In the wake of Russia’s sham presidential election on Sunday, Juncker sent the victorious Vladimir Putin a message of unctuous praise. “Congratulations on your re-election,” Juncker tweeted. “I have always argued that positive relations between the EU and Russia are crucial to the security of our continent.”
Juncker also made a point of signaling his enthusiasm for the Kremlin’s demands for a new Europe-wide security architecture, a proposal ultimately designed to split Europe from the United States and inevitably weaken NATO.… Seguir leyendo »
Recently, on a miserably cold morning in Berlin, I visited the headquarters of the Young Socialists, the youth movement of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). With so much attention now homing in on Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament who returned to Germany to run against Chancellor Angela Merkel, it was time to find out what was making him so popular, so quickly.
Just one month into his new job, support for the Social Democrats has soared. One poll shows Schulz’s party at 31 percent, pulling to within 2 percent of its rival. Other polls show the parties neck-and-neck, at 32 percent.… Seguir leyendo »
Frans Timmermans is no pushover, as the Polish government is beginning to find out.
The soft-spoken but plain-speaking first vice president of the European Commission — the E.U.’s executive branch — is responsible for ensuring that each member state abides by the rule of law. He takes it very seriously.
The so-called Rule of Law Framework was introduced in 2014. As Timmermans constantly reminds his audiences, the European Union is built on a common set of values, enshrined in the E.U. Treaty. “These values include respect for the rule of law. . . . Making sure the rule of law is preserved is a collective responsibility of the E.U.… Seguir leyendo »
In my childhood, my mother would drive up once a year to Northern Ireland. The main stretch from Dublin up to the border was a slow two-lane road. Ireland was not yet in the E.U. so it didn’t have any access to its generous structural and development funds to modernize its poor infrastructure.
Once the security checks at the border crossing were over, we entered what seemed a foreign world. Everything was new and modern from the fast and wide motorway to Belfast to the big department stores offering so much choice. The prices were also low. Britain, not yet in the E.U.… Seguir leyendo »
Hours after the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, the blame game began. Populist, conservative and Eurosceptic parties and movements across Europe pointed fingers at the refugees. They argued that the uncontrolled influx of so many refugees fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq creates opportunity for ISIS followers to enter Europe.
But refugees had nothing to do with the bombings in London or Madrid, Oslo or Brussels, Beirut and Ankara.
The continuing war in Syria means that there is no end in sight to the refugee crisis. Only a few EU countries — Austria, Germany and Sweden — have taken in very large numbers.… Seguir leyendo »
Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany has been taking a hard line on Russia: Ms. Merkel has repeatedly criticized attempts by President Vladimir Putin to keep Russia’s neighbors away from the European Union, and she has been outspoken about the Kremlin’s muzzling of the media, the banning of nongovernmental organizations and the spread of corruption.
Clearly, Mr. Putin is not pleased. Yet it is not Moscow that presents the biggest challenge to Ms. Merkel’s line on Russia. It will be her new coalition partners in Berlin, the Social Democrats, and in particular the new foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
This is bad news both for Europe and for the United States: Ms.… Seguir leyendo »