Wolfgang Schuessel
Wolfgang Schuessel

There is no reason for the ongoing talk of “crisis, crisis, crisis” in Europe, former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Wolfgang Schuessel
Wolfgang Schuessel
Schuessel said he is not convinced that this is actually the case in terms of ongoing talk of a “crisis” in Europe.

He referred to the 15 quarters of successive economic growth, growth in every member state, and four out of five member states previously in crisis now out of it, with Greece the sole exception.

On the whole, the former chancellor said, the European Union (EU)’s institutions are working, and the euro is well-established as one of the leading global currencies.

The migrant crisis occurred, but is now under control and the influx regulated, he said, adding that the EU outer borders are on the way to being better-protected, the economic instruments have significantly improved, a banking union established, and the European Stability Mechanism is functioning well.

“While there are problems existing, these exist in every single country,” he said. “So personally, in this context I would not speak of a ‘crisis’.”

Schuessel did acknowledge however the Brexit situation is regrettable and difficult to understand, but that it is a crisis for Britain itself.

In his opinion, the blame rests in part on not adequately informing the public on the issues that mattered, along with steady criticism of the EU over the years, even by former Prime Minister David Cameron who then expected the “Remain” vote to win.

While the end result was very close, proving how decisive an informed choice could have been, simply urging voters to choose “Remain” a few months prior to the election after years of criticisms was “too little, too late,” he said.

He added that in his personal opinion, the decision to leave will at some point also be regretted.

The ongoing talk over the rise of populism within the EU has also been overstated somewhat, he believes, as these parties have always existed.

Schuessel believes an upper ceiling for core support of these parties, incorporating populists, EU skeptics and the like lies somewhere between 10 and 20 percent. This makes them, in his view, not a particular problem for the EU.

The solution is for sensible, prudent politicians to stand up and provide sound solutions, and for the main parties to prepare better for elections, and field more suitable candidates, he said.

Concerning the talk of a “multi-speed EU,” in which different countries are able to participate or advance at different rates, he said, “this is as old as the Union itself.”

There are already some aspects of this, such as the euro currency itself, used in 19 of the 28 member states, Schuessel said. In addition a police and security authority, the European prosecutor, and the new issue of a patent system, are all cases of where only certain member states are participating.

In other areas where this could happen are strengthened cooperation in armed forces-related matters, such as for arms purchases, logistics, and joint special forces units, he said.

Such discussions will be interesting and necessarily easy, he noted, with the possibility that smaller countries could be left out of certain scenarios, though it must remain open to them should they wish to participate.

Despite the EU moving forward incorporating potentially differing levels of cooperation from member states, Schuessel said certain core principles must remain, such as the single market.

The EU Commission should also be strengthened where all member states are effected, he argued, but noted that this becomes trickier where the multi-speed approach occurs and the full mandate is no longer present. “Here the Commission can be somewhat weaker though still serve as a properly-functioning concept,” he said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh


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