As economic growth returns to the eurozone, like the first shafts of sunlight after a long Arctic winter, and thousands of demonstrators in Ukraine provide proof that the EU still has magnetism, it seems like a strange time to question the European project.
But at a recent Black Coffee Morning at ECFR's London office, that's exactly what we did. We asked the simple question, "Is the EU doomed?" Two speakers attempted to answer it - Jan Zielonka of Oxford University (and the co-editor of ECFR's "The new political geography of Europe"), and Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times. We recorded the event, and there are a number of ways for you to listen to what happened.
In the first of two short podcasts, Jan Zielonka lays out his thoughts on the question, arguing that there are three good reasons for believing the EU is indeed doomed:
In the second podcast, Gideon Rachman throws
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Since it took power from President Morsi last July, Egypt's military has cracked down on dissent in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. Now, having successfully negotiated a constitutional referendum, Field Marshal Sisi appears ready to announce his candidacy for the post of president. A recent ECFR Black Coffee Morning in our London office examined these events and attempted to answer some key questions about Egypt's military and the possible response of the European Union.
The first speaker was Issandr el Amrani of the International Crisis Group: “Who represents who? Is the current military-led government really representative of a mass outpouring of anger against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi administration? Or is it on the contrary as the Muslim Brothers will tell you, is that only a reflection of the near complete control of Egyptian media?”
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Is the European project fit to face the 21st century world? The renowned sociologist Anthony Giddens thinks that on balance it is, provided that it also devotes energy and attention to some of the great existential questions that it faces in a rapidly changing and highly competitive world. Professor Giddens was the speaker at a recent ECFR Black Coffee Morning, and set out what he saw as three vital issues that the EU must come to terms with if it is to retain its influence and place in the world today.
The first issue is finding a new source of jobs in a swiftly evolving economic system. Professor Giddens believes this will require a greater understanding of new technologies and a more forward thinking appreciation of education than Europe currently has.
Second on his list is an evaluation of the place of what is commonly called the European Social Model, although he was also
An unsatisfactory pattern is emerging in Europe’s engagement with crises in Africa. France, acting sometimes in conjunction with other countries, takes the lead in deciding where, how, and when to intervene militarily to stop a bad situation from getting worse. Other European member states starting with Germany sit grumbling on the fences, at worst engaging in off-the-record diplomatic sniping against the French effort, at best meeting them with a Gallic shrug, and nearly always turning a deaf ear to initial French pleas for help. Eventually, some form of assistance is granted, grudgingly and after much dissatisfaction on both sides of the Rhine.
Nothing new here, one might argue. France, as ever, plays the policeman in that same bloodied playground where in the heyday of Western dominance it strutted about as one of the two leading colonial powers. Other capitals continue to see
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The European Union, so often accused of lacking strategic purpose, seems to have discovered a new security role: keeping African airports safe. In 2012, it launched EUAVSEC South Sudan, a small civilian operation tasked with improving airport security procedures in the young country’s capital, Juba. While South Sudan stumbled through political crises and recurrent violence, EUAVSEC was busy training airport staff, even finding “170 high visibility vests” for security personnel. This wasn’t quite as silly as it sounds: the risks of terrorists infiltrating Juba’s poorly-run airport were significant enough to make many airlines refuse to fly there. But the whole exercise has been somewhat overshadowed by South Sudan’s descent into murderous chaos over the last month, which may have claimed over 10,000 lives so far.
The EU’s decision to focus on such a small part of South Sudan’s
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