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Towards a missing landing

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The results of the EU Summit in Brussels are disconcerting. Notwithstanding the positive reactions by Italian journals, the EU is going backwards on the politically crucial issue of migration, with deleterious compromises.

No word on the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union, nor on a budgetary line for the Eurozone; something Macron has politically invested in to face the nationalistic souverainisme of Le Pen.

True, we can find some consolation in the European Stability Mechanism becoming the backstop for the Single Resolution Fund of the banking union; or with the renewed negotiations upon the Single Deposit Insurance Scheme. At the same time, it is pretty good to read that Frontex will be reinforced to protect external borders.

What is wrong is that Dublin remains unchallenged, secondary migrants shall come back to (or remain in) the first landing country, and that the only strategy of the EU for migration seems to be closing all borders. The Visegrad group won its battle against huge issues of humanitarian, economic, climatic, political migrations that are largely the result of a missing European foreign policy in the African and Middle-East countries.

I like to use the metaphor of a river to describe the current EU situation. Seventy years ago, after the two world conflicts caused by European States, we left the bank of a river characterized by absolute and exclusive national sovereignties, considered the true cause of intrinsic international conflicts, which nevertheless provided all public goods necessary to the life of their citizens. And we started to move across the river, towards a more efficient and less conflicting system of shared sovereignties. This was the meaning of the Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950: let’s start sharing sovereignty over two crucial goods (necessary to make war), coal and steel, and move towards a federation (the highest constitutional system of share sovereignty among States).

For decades, while the world was divided between the two nuclear super-powers, Europeans thought they had plenty of time to reach the other bank, and slowly moved towards it. After 1989, when the world started changing and the international balance of powers was challenged, the level of water in the river started rising. Until, with the economic and financial crisis, the water arrived to the people’s throat.

When the water is there, nevertheless, human instinct suggests to look back to the bank you are coming from, if the bank you are moving to is still lost in the mist, and nobody can predict if and when we shall get there. We know that on the previous bank we shall find conflicts, but we also hope to find someone exercising sovereignty so as to provide the goods that citizens need for their survival.

The only alternative to the temptation to come back, perfectly embedded in the national-populist message, is to know exactly what we will find on the other side, and when we will reach the bank. This was the revolutionary meaning of Macron’s speech at Sorbonne last September: to provide a perspective of what is on the other bank, how to get there, and when.

From now on, I think we should assess all EU summits against this scenario: either they manage to provide European citizens with a clear perspective and timing of what they will find on the other bank, or an increasing majority of people will start turning and moving backwards.

From this point of view, the summit in Brussels was a resounding failure, that detaches European citizens from the will to struggle for a misty, far, uncertain bank which nobody knows exactly how is built.

Like the migrants coming to Europe, European citizens are moving towards a missing landing.

Posted by Fabio Masini

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