Euroscepticism waning, EU wants to be seen as a solution, says EU’s Tusk

The rising tide of anti-EU sentiments since Brexit has begun to ebb, says one EU leader, as political movements characterized by eurosceptic tendencies in France and Britain lose support. 

Virginia Mayo/AP
EU Chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier (l.), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (c.), and European Council President Donald Tusk make their way to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on April 29, 2017. Mr. Tusk opined in a letter that the European Union is 'slowly turning the corner' as anti-EU sentiments wane.

Europe is slowly turning a corner as a wave of anti-European Union movements peters out, Donald Tusk told European Union leaders in a letter published before he will chair their two-day summit starting on June 22.

Countries including Austria, the Netherlands, France, and Italy have seen a sharp rise in popularity of parties with eurosceptic, often anti-immigration policies, but in recent months these have suffered decisive defeats in elections.

Mr. Tusk, the president of the council of EU heads of states and governments, said the bloc was now again starting to be perceived as a solution, rather the problem, and that recent difficulties had served to strengthen it.

"It is fair to say that we will meet in a different political context from that of a few months ago, when the anti-EU forces were on the rise," Tusk wrote.

"The current developments on the continent seem to indicate that we are slowly turning the corner. In many of our countries, the political parties that have built their strength on anti-EU sentiments are beginning to diminish," he said.

In Britain, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May lost its majority in parliament earlier this month, scuppering Ms. May's stated aim of bolstering her mandate for negotiating Britain's exit from the EU.

In France, Emmanuel Macron decisively won presidential and parliamentary elections on a agenda of support for the EU and reforms, soundly beating Marine Le Pen's far right National Front, which for the first time in its history reached a second round in a presidential vote.

"We are witnessing the return of the EU rather as a solution, not a problem. Paradoxically, the tough challenges of the recent months have made us more united than before," Tusk said.

Apart from Brexit, the EU is also facing a major immigration challenge which, though abated, is still fueling anti-EU sentiment. Some blame the EU for not acting fast enough to stop the inflow of migrants arriving from the Middle East and Africa.

A series of attacks by Islamist militants in Britain, France, Sweden, Germany and Belgium, in which hundreds were killed, have added to concerns.

To further stem migration flows, Tusk said the EU should give more money to support Libyan Navy Coastguards to help stop people being smuggled into the EU by sea.

There is also discontent over unfettered global trade, perceived as a threat to jobs in Europe.

"Therefore, during the upcoming European Council, I want us to move further on our policy response in these three areas," Tusk said in the letter to the leaders.

He said that while the EU could not replace governments in fighting home-grown militants, it could put pressure on technology firms to act against "content that spreads terrorist material or incites to violence."

Europe should also set up joint defense capabilities to improve security, Tusk said, and he also called for better instruments to defend EU trade against unfair competition and "uncontrolled globalization."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.