After a long weekend of travel, the lecture today offered an opportunity to explore the future of the continent many of us have been excited to experience. The lecture for class today focused on Jean-Claude Junker’s “White Paper on the Future of Europe.” His paper outlines the five potential scenarios for the future of the European Union.
The first scenario would be more or less a continuation of the current model, so the priorities would remain the same: strengthen the single market and pursue a common defense policy, etc. However, this option is seen as inefficient and impractical.
The second scenario would essentially revolve around the single market and nothing more. This would allow the member nations to put more of their energy and focus into strengthening the single market and less on policy areas where they are unable to find common ground. However, this option seems to reverse all the progress the European Union has made.
The third scenario is what has been coined “multi-speed Europe” as countries that would like to pursue further integration in regards to key policy areas are able to do so and those that would not are welcome to not participate. This scenario is more favored by many elites such as Junker himself.
The fourth scenario involves increased focus and dedication of resources to a few specific policy areas. This would decrease inefficiency and citizens’ distrust of the European Union. It might be hard to choose specific policy areas to target, but once this has been achieved, the EU can focus on these areas and create a more comprehensive policy agenda.
The fifth scenario would involve a European Union that would like to do more across all policy areas. The focus would be “deepening” the European Union and increasing cooperation so that the European Union would overall have one common voice. However, there are fears that this would increase the European Union’s power and decrease the power of national governments.
As a class, we were divided into five groups, each of which was assigned one of the five scenarios, and we were to present the essential argument of each possible scenario for the future of the European Union. It was interesting to explore one particular argument so closely. My group was assigned the third scenario, which I believe is the most likely future for the EU and currently serves as a major subject of debate. This is because, as Dr. Birchfield discussed during our class, many countries are already naturally inclined to group themselves according to issues that are most important to them due to geography, religion, culture, etc.
Scenario three and four seemed to be the most favored because they would decrease the perceived inefficiencies of the European Union, which seems to be one of the major issues today. Another major subject of debate is national sovereignty, which scenario three does address by allowing the individual member states to choose which policy areas they would like to take part in or not.
This was the overall topic of lecture for this day as we prepared for a week full of excursions to Fort Hackenburg, the Struthoff Concentration Camp, as well as the memorial site for the Battle of Verdun. These immersive activities will give us a better understanding of the sad history that ultimately led to the creation of this global peace project: the European Union.