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Hungary under its current leader, Victor Orban, is a serious threat to European unity. Yet when the European Parliament voted on sanctions, Orban can escape scrutiny by not attending the debates and he can rely on his far-right allies in the Parliament to vote down any action. Indeed, when a vote took place in September to trigger sanctions under Article 7, British Conservative Party MEPs chose to vote against the motion. Hungary raises serious questions for the bloc and comes back to the existential challenge of migration and the Refugee Crisis. We should ask ourselves why Mr Orban still has high approval rates, (though opposition is rising). Hungary is by no means the only ‘problem child’ for the EU. Italy’s populist government was defiant of the EU’s budget rules and is now officially in recession. The treatment of refugees under Interior Minister Mateo Salvini has been inhumane, cruel but has so far faced few significant consequences. Poland, too, chooses not to abide by collective rules and policies set out by the EU. The bloc must make it clear that there are serious consequences for member states who choose not to abide by its rules.
Next year, 2019, the European institutions have an opportunity for renewal. Elections for MEPs will take place and nominations for commissioners and the European Commission President The nomination of a new European Commission President gives us an opportunity to put the ‘progressive’ element of ‘progressive alliance’ into action. We could start by nominating more women, those of different ethnic backgrounds or those from countries that have recently joined the bloc (the former Soviet states such as Romania, Bulgaria). Perhaps suggesting younger candidates would bring in fresh ideas about how we can serve and support the next generation of Europeans. These are just examples, but measures like these could do a lot to show that Europe is for everyone.
We in the Socialists and Democrats value democracy so much that we put it in our name. Yet democracy worldwide is under more threat than ever before. A President of the United States who won fewer personal votes than his rival is elected. A referendum on membership of the European Union won on lies, deceit and by a small majority. These are just two obvious examples, but there are plenty more. A poll in Austria not too long ago showed that one in every four citizens desired a ‘strong man’ to lead the country. Other evidence seems to show that young people, who didn’t experience the horrors of the two World Wars in the last century, do not value democracy as much anymore. Within member states of the European Union, there are governments who are becoming increasingly autocratic. We in the Socialists and Democrats have to combat this. We have to recognise that democracy has its weaknesses, but it is the best system we could possibly have. That’s why the European elections in 2019 and general elections in member states are so important. We have to show that the European future of lower social inequality, generational justice and equal opportunities for all is left. May 2019 is our first opportunity do that. If we don’t, the consequences could be worse than anything we can imagine.
I fully support the Schengen system and I hope that it continues to benefit European citizens for many years to come. I also support the enlargement of the EU and believe that new members should be integrated into the Schengen system in the same way that existing members already are. However, I feel that over the last few years, Schengen has become ammunition for the eurosceptic Right across Europe. Whether in the context of the refugee crisis or the debate about immigration, it becomes a reason to attack the European project. I feel that the Socialists and Democrats are in a position to defend the advantages of the Schengen system. I wonder how we could go about doing this?
I fully support the Schengen system and hope that European citizens can continue to benefit from it for many years to come. I also believe that the new members of the EU should be integrated into the system in the same way that existing members already are. However, I do feel that it has become ammunition for the Eurosceptic Rght in recent years. Whether in the context of the refugee crisis or the immigration debate in general, the right have used it as a reason to attack the European project. We in the Socialists and Democrats have to combat this. I wonder, what is the best way to go about this?
I am a young person currently living in the UK. I am currently at university here but I am particularly worried about Brexit and its consequences. One of the aspects that I have heard very little about is whether the UK will continue to be in the Bologna scheme. At the moment my BA in the UK is the equivalent and comparable to a BA from any of the other 27 EU countries. When the UK leaves, will my degree and those of others currently studying here be recognised in other EU countries? I suppose this is just one of a long list of aspects of daily life which will be affected by this unnecessary and frankly stupid decision. With the way the UK Government is dealing with Brexit and the slow pace of negotiations, I suspect I (or anyone else) won’t get an answer on this topic for quite some time A European.