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lundi 18 avril 2011

EU: This Strange , Useless "Animal" more and more in Trouble? The opinion of Gideon Rachman

The European Union in deep trouble

1. France has started to block trains from Italy to intercept illegal migrants from North Africa.
2. A Eurosceptic party has made big gains in the Finnish general election.
3. Political squabbling in Portugal is raising doubt about the country’s ability to negotiate a bail-out.
4. There are growing demands in Greece for the country to default on its debts.
Answer: These are all symptoms of the same problem. The political understandings that underpin the EU are beginning to unravel.
The Franco-Italian argument is the only one--->
that doesn’t relate directly to the European single currency. Instead, it strikes directly at another of the main manifestations of European unity – the free movement of people between European countries and, in particular, within the Schengen border-free area. The Italians argue that other Europeans are giving them precious little help in dealing with the flow of migrants from North Africa. The French feel that the Italians are deliberately directing French-speaking immigrants from Tunisia northwards. Actually, both sides are right.
Underlying the argument are two sets of national politicians who feel under extreme pressure to deal with illegal immigration. President Sarkozy of France has an election to fight and a formidable challenge from the far-right to deal with. The Italian government contains parties like the Northern League that have appealed strongly to anti-immigrant sentiment. In this situation, both governments are more intent on pleasing their own voters than preserving the facade of European unity. The Italian interior minister, Roberto Maroni of the Northern League, has even said that the lack of solidarity that other European states have shown Italy over the immigration issue has raised the question of whether his country should leave the EU.
Mr Maroni was letting off steam after an acrimonious meeting. But you can expect more such talk, as the euro-crisis mounts. The rise of the True Finns, a Eurosceptic party, shows that large proportions of the Finnish electorate are so fed up with funding bail-outs for southern Europe that they are prepared to repudiate EU agreements – and risk the economic and political consequences. Meanwhile, the countries at the other end of the bail-out deals – Portugal, Ireland and Greece -are increasingly chafing at the austerity measures that they are being forced to agree to by the creditor nations of the EU.
The result is that the popularity and political legitmacy of the European Union is weakening across the European continent.

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