Unity of the EU is under question? - Interview by Ph.D. Reinhard Heinisch | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

20 June, Thursday

Unity of the EU is under question? - Interview by Ph.D. Reinhard Heinisch

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Recent moves in the European Union raises many questions about the future of the organization. Latest tensions among the members influence stability in the Union.

Eurasia Diary took an interview from the professor of the University Salzburg Ph.D. Reinhard Heinisch about the explanation of the events.

Reinhard Heinisch is Professor of Comparative Austrian politics and also chairs the Department of Political Science and Sociology in the University of Salzburg. He is also a European Studies Center affiliate of the University of Pittsburgh, USA, where he served on the faculty from 1994 to 2009.

1. What stands on the background of British, Italian and Polish intentions of withdrawal from EU?

- The intentions are very different – neither Italy nor Poland want to withdraw from the EU. Poland received a sizable share of its budget from the EU and would hurt itself. Italy talking about withdrawal from the Euro-Zone (the area using the Euro currency), which nit the EU but a subset of countries. Poland has cultural issues with the EU in that it perceives the liberal values that the EU represents as a certain threat to polish traditionalism and Catholicism. The EU criticizes Poland for not respecting the rules of liberal democracy. Italy thinks that having a soft currently and being able to spend money beyond the constraints imposed by the Eurozone would help it grow faster.

So here the issue is economic. Both Poland and Italy have Euro-skeptical parties in government. The UK is different from both and there the issue of immigration and sovereignty have been front and center. The question has split the Conservative party which scheduled a referendum they thought they would win to end the debate about Europe once and for all in the Conservative Party. Well, the referendum went the other ways and now Brexit is a big headache because it is dawning on the British that leaving the EU will me massively costly.

2. How such kind of moves influence trust among members?

- Negatively because for the first time, there are governments and political actors that are willing to risk the future of the EU, which was based on the fact that mainstream parties in member states would support it. What is the reason for the increase of national movements and popular interest in these movements in EU? Various factors, the questions of identity and culture have become more important in an age of migration, nationalism has become more important in the age of globalization, at the same time economic and material questions have declined in rich countries, there is also a debate about how much power should the EU level have and how much power the national level.

3. What is your view about the EU Army idea? why this opinion emerged and is it needed?

- This is an idea that I don’t take very seriously and there now chance that this will be realized because there is no European people and no fully function European body politics. We would first have European parties and then genuinely European institutions. No European institution would have the legitimacy of sending a European army to fight a war because the soldiers would still be seen by their countries French, German, and Italians and these governments would still be responsible to their citizens and would not want their countrymen to die in a war that is not relevant to them. The EU cannot agree even on minor issues let alone on a shooting war. Besides NATO is the European defense arm and already fully linked to the EU even without the US. I see Macron’s proposal more in symbolic terms, to set a new goal and to signal to Trump that Europeans don’t have to put up with everything.

Ulvi Ahmedli

Eurasia Diary

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