The Current Situation of Europe - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Current Situation of Europe


The Current Situation of Europe


The European Union faces numerous pressing challenges that require collective efforts for resolution, otherwise further disruption is likely.


Frontline states who have taken in large numbers of refugees have expressed displeasure at a perceived lack of solidarity from EU institutions, calling on it to help manage immigration more effectively and help manage immigration management more efficiently. They hope to change Dublin regulations while working jointly on asylum matters.




Many of the challenges Europe is currently facing are complex and interlinked; therefore they cannot be resolved solely through any one European institution acting alone.


Short term, the EU is facing multiple crises that require coordinated responses. These include war in Ukraine; refugee and humanitarian crises escalating at unprecedented rates; rising food and fuel prices; inflation and economic contraction; climate change impacts and global instability among others.


Due to these challenges, a different kind of European Union is necessary. One that is more dynamic, flexible and quick-response; better manage diversity while engaging citizens more directly.


The European Union is still reeling from the aftershocks of the financial crisis and eurozone debt crisis, with shockwaves having rippled throughout their economy despite positive economic data; dissatisfaction among European citizens remains high despite some positive indicators.


As tensions within Europe mount, some nations are reconsidering their membership of the EU. European nations should realize that, to become international actors, they must act together and speak with one voice; otherwise they risk becoming spectators to world events without either capacity nor power to influence them.


Recent events have demonstrated this fact clearly: during the pandemic, an EU recovery fund and collective vaccination program were set up; when Russia threatened aggression in Ukraine, EU members demonstrated unprecedented solidarity by sanctioning arms exports, finance, refugees and more; finally when conflict broke out in Sahel there was an unprecedented mobilization of EU foreign policy including its first military deployment overseas.


The EU is affected by instability in the Middle East and North Africa, which has an adverse impact on Europe's security situation and dependence on imported oil and gas supplies. Climate change also poses serious threats to its economy as well as society as a whole.


The European Union must meet these challenges by building a shared understanding of its citizens' needs and interests, setting clear priorities, and developing innovative and effective solutions. 


These can be guided by principles such as solidarity or the idea that Europe is a community of values; yet their focus must remain firmly anchored in practical actions which improve quality of life across Europe - this will restore public faith in Europe's ability to make an impactful difference globally; indeed the EU should prove that its capacities for innovation, flexibility, and rapid response still surprise people everywhere!


Social Issues


The EU must address numerous societal challenges, including income inequality and poverty; climate change and environmental degradation; migration; changing patterns and impacts of migration; as well as an aging population which will strain social welfare systems while robots threaten some jobs while increasing competition for others.


To reassure voters of Europe's ability to successfully address these issues without succumbing to populist narratives, reassurance must come from having a clear vision and plan of what Europe stands for and how best to attain this aim. Furthermore, economic, security and immigration policy need reevaluation as well as strengthening legitimacy within its institutions.


One of the biggest obstacles facing Europe today is an alteration in European values, particularly around religion and cultural pluralism. As the European Union expands into Central and Eastern European nations, many people there tend to be less accepting of religious pluralism, leading many people in those regions to question whether EU-wide rules and laws reflect their viewpoints.


Many Europeans hold the belief that their nation should prioritize its culture, values and traditions above anything else. This mindset has helped fuel far-right parties that exploit fears over migrants and demographic changes to gain power. Unfortunately, this trend could undermine efforts to reform outdated economic and political systems which may require significant financial investments to implement change.


Another challenge lies in creating a more inclusive and cohesive society. Minorities and the poor tend to experience discrimination and violence more frequently in several European states, while people on low incomes struggle with paying their energy and food costs.


Following the coronavirus pandemic, many European governments provided temporary aid to help families cover costs; however, such measures alone do not suffice to significantly decrease chronic poverty levels, especially among vulnerable groups.


The EU must place poverty reduction as its top priority and tackle inequalities by reviewing tax/benefit policies to ensure fairer burden sharing between rich and poor households. Furthermore, its capacity for collecting evidence and monitoring societal trends related to inequality, poverty and immigration must also be strengthened.


RAND Europe conducted this report's research and analysis with support from an interinstitutional task force of EU experts while maintaining researchers' intellectual independence. RAND Europe is an independent non-profit organization established to provide policymakers with objective, nonpartisan analyses of public issues and potential solutions; visit their website to discover more. At the request of their task force of EU interinstitutional experts (using funding provided anonymously from an anonymous donor), RAND produces the Trend Report on European Societal Issues; its digital edition can be downloaded free of charge while printed copies can be ordered by contacting RAND directly.




Europe remains embroiled in conflict nearly one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, and 2022 may well become one of those pivotal years that forever changes our planet. Historians will likely look back upon it as one of those pivotal years, similar to 1989 or 2001 when events were irrevocably altered across our continent.


The Ukrainian crisis has increased the EU's need to review its policies. Now more than ever, leading global efforts on climate change, providing support to poorer countries that seek sustainable development and setting norms that protect people against authoritarian regimes are all central objectives for EU action.


Long-term, the EU's survival depends on its ability to create opportunities for its citizens and assist in adapting to change. That is why education and training programs that equip people with modern economic skills should be prioritized, along with revamped job-hunting and unemployment schemes that enable people to find work which fits their abilities and interests; finally, measures must be implemented that reward people who care for the elderly, volunteer their services or protect the environment.


To meet these challenges will require significant investments and bold policy choices, yet Europeans have shown their understanding and are willing to sacrifice for a brighter future - in many different ways such as buying electric vehicles; supporting community energy projects which help reduce electricity bills; or starting businesses focused on renewable energy.


But the EU is moving too slowly. Without adequate fiscal capacity to address major issues like building new infrastructure and speeding up green transition, as well as rebuilding Ukraine once the conflict ends; as well as compensating for lost growth caused by higher oil and electricity prices; they simply can't address them quickly enough.


Mainstream political parties are struggling to innovate. Voters want a fresh vision for Europe and are being lured in by populist narratives. The EU should focus on its Three Big Achievers and make a compelling argument for change, including revisiting the unanimity requirement that has prevented Brussels from acting swiftly on foreign policy or holding Hungary and Poland accountable for democratic backsliding. After 2024, when the current treaty expires, Europe should look towards creating a new treaty that allows for faster enlargement rates and makes holding referendums on migrants being permitted to settle easier. An advantageous cycle would then emerge, with renewed interest in enlargement driving internal reforms forward in an iterative cycle that leads to further progress on the Big 3. We could avoid an endless spiral of division and conflict by acting now to advance progress on Europe's Big 3 agenda.

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