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European integration struggles with major predicaments

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

01-21-2016 15:14 BJT

By Zhao Minghao, research fellow, Charhar Institute Beijing and adjunct fellow

Since refugees have allegedly engaged in a string of sexual assaults and robberies during the New Year’s holiday in Cologne, Germany, there are serious concerns about public safety in Europe. 

 

According to German media, on Jan.18, 50 councilors from the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union had signed a petition to ask Chancellor Angela Merkel to change the nation's refugee policy.  

Although Merkel announced she would expel refugees, who broke the law, she remains mired in the biggest political crisis of her career. Historically, Berlin had strongly promoted European integration, but the "Merkel crisis" is evolving into a " European integration crisis."

After World War II, Europe has experienced a number of crises and this century, Europe has achieved progress with integration, but increasing problems have ensued.

The sovereign debt crisis had brought Greece and Spain into an economic crisis in 2008. The two countries were even on the verge of bankruptcy.

Some European Union (EU) member states such as Greece thought Berlin was acting as an arrogant "savior" in the economic crisis and harbored grudges against the harsh aid terms put forward by Germany.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine crisis continues to boil in a geo-political combat between the United States and Russia, while Europe has paid a tremendous price for it.

After Europe-Russia relations broke off, EU countries have endured heavy economic and trade losses, as well as coming to grips with severe energy supply problems. Eastern Europe and Baltic  countries, located near Russia, believe their security has turned fragile.

Washington appears to be exploiting conflicts between Europe and Russia to serve as an "offshore balancer" in Eurasia. The US only places Europe as its marginalized interests, while Europe realizes that it could hardly  rely on the US more.

The Syrian crisis and refugee problem have given Europe a big blow. The Syrian crisis was a prelude of a radical power transition in the Middle East.

Conflicts of religious sects, ethnic groups and geographical relations are inter-woven, turning the Middle East into chaos, which has not been witnessed for decades and would likely continue for another 20 years.

Witnessing the drastic fights among Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as mutual containment between Washington and Moscow, place Europe as a mere spectator.

Since 2014, millions of mainly Muslim refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other countries have poured into Europe. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had acknowledged that terrorists utilized the refugee crisis to launch Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris.

When refugees struggle with economic difficulties in Europe, or on account of religious, cultural, social conflicts, some tend to easily get radicalized, and to be recruited by the "Islamic State" and other militant Muslim extremist forces.

European citizens feel besieged by a "time bomb," that could cause immense harm to regional economic and social well-being.  Refugees have taken over many jobs in Europe, while public security has deteriorated.

Before the end of 2017, Great Britain will hold a referendum on whether the country should stay in the EU. The refugee crisis is causing more British to support a withdrawal.

Central and Eastern European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, do not support Germany. The "old Europe" and "New Europe" are much indifferent now.

The European populist parties oppose the EU refugee policy and are expanding its political base to include the French "National Front", Germany's "Germany Select Party", and Danish People's Party.

The impact of refugee problems over the political landscape in Europe cannot be ignored. For decades, European integration has made progress amid various challenges. However, this time may be different.

Chances are slim that the internal crisis of Europe can be solved soon. Nevertheless, China hopes to see a strong, united and prosperous Europe march ahead.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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