Euroskeptic parties could paralyze EU, study warns


A new survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) ahead of European Parliament elections in May has found that Euroskeptic parties are on course to win a third of the seats in the assembly, which could potentially undermine the European Union’s cohesion and security.

“In the longer term, their ability to paralyze decision-making at the center of the EU would defuse pro-Europeans’ argument that the project is imperfect but capable of reform. At this point, the EU would be living on borrowed time,” said the report, “The 2019 European Elections: How anti-Europeans plan to wreck Europe and what can be done to stop it.”

Mark Leonard, director of the London-based think-tank, said that the warning contained in the report, that anti-European parties are gaining strength and could paralyze the EU, should focus the minds of pro-Europeans.

“They must not become trapped into becoming defenders of the status quo in Europe or allowing the election to become a referendum on the issue of migration – which is exactly the battleground that the anti-Europeans want,” he said. “Instead, pro-Europeans need to unmute the silent majority by fighting different elections that Europe’s different publics will vote on – such as the climate change election, the ‘Facebook’ election for those concerned about their data and privacy, the election for those worried about Russian aggression, the prosperity election for those worried about stalled living standards, the rule of law election for those worried about democratic backsliding, and the ‘saving Europe’ election for the EU’s most ardent defenders.”

The ECFR study examines what is at stake in each of the bloc’s member states. It draws from a network of associate researchers in European capitals, interviews with political parties, policymakers and policy experts, and analysis of patterns in voter segmentation and party programs. Experts then gauged the influence anti-European parties could wield on key issues such as trade, security, climate change and the EU budget should they join forces in the European assembly.

The report concludes that this year’s European Parliament elections will be the most significant in the institution’s history. It warns that the future of the Europe, as a global power capable of guaranteeing its citizens security and prosperity, is in jeopardy.

“This report shows how high the stakes are and how much damage the anti-Europeans could do. As well as frustrating EU action that will help Europe’s citizens – from trade deals to action against Russian aggression – they will use their power in the European Parliament as a launch pad to transform politics throughout Europe,” Susi Dennison, senior fellow and director of the ECFR’s European Power program, said.

“We offer a strategy to fight back: By exposing real-world costs of their key policy ideas, and identifying new issues that could inspire voters,” she added.