The European Union on the brink of the abyss

Huffington Post Greece – Dec. 11, 2018

The first concern for the creation of the European Union in the middle of the last century was to avoid a war or a crisis among its members, a goal that has been achieved. Over the years, cooperation between the countries of the Union in the field of economy and social cohesion has expanded. With the leadership of the United States at the helm of the international system, the European Union headed for military co-operation with them until the creation of NATO. So gradually Washington became the engine for all the military, economic and international decisions of the Union such as security and the fight against the Russian threat. At the beginning of this century, Washington led Europe to a war on terror, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then some European countries were faced with a severe economic crisis that led to their economic collapse. As the Union acted in the effort to regularize its interior through the support of these countries, the first blow came: the London decision on Brexit. The second blow for the EU was the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House. So now Europe is in front a dangerous crossroads between keeping its present form and returning to the pre-World War II state.

In my personal view, the greatest danger comes from the growing political and military threat of the Russian administration. Immigration and refugee crisis, energy sources, the rise of fascism and Nazism, but mainly the current policy of the US government are also important risks.

Russian threat

Moscow, after taking over the leadership of the White House by Barack Obama, has launched a new foreign policy based on controversy and the emergence of its hard face. In this context, it moved in Ukraine and Syria. As the US showed that it was slowly withdrawing from the Middle East, Moscow returned to the region by creating a network of diplomatic and military relations that would allow it to be imposed on the international community as a force that its opinion cannot be ignored, a situation that did not exist after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. As long as the EU was busy with the economic integration and its internal crises and plunged deeper into the quagmire of the war on terror alongside Washington, Moscow was developing in the defense, technology and communication sectors through social networks. Many press reports confirm the existence of Moscow’s long hand in guiding the British opinion in favor of Brexit. US research also confirms Moscow’s role in the election of Trump through the exploitation of social media. Russia, as one of the world’s leading oil and gas suppliers, is becoming a major player in controlling their prices internationally, something that is clear day by day. But the most dangerous tool in the hands of Moscow is identified on three fronts: the first is the re-activation of its influence in Eastern Europe and especially in FYROM, Bosnia and Serbia, second the blackmail through the sources of energy and the third the attempt to manipulate European public opinion by enhancing racism and nationalism through the use of social media.

The need for energy

With industrial growth and raising the standard of living in the EU, the increase in its energy needs is proportional. It is not limited to the most powerful states of the Union, but includes all countries. This necessity has mainly pushed Germany to sign with Moscow the construction of the NorthStream and SouthStream gas pipelines, which US President Trump asked later to be canceled and European needs be covered from the US market. But there is always the question why Germany insists on the purchase of Russian gas exclusively although there are alternatives. Everyone knows that energy is the most powerful weapon in the hands of Moscow that can make it in the immediate future the regulator of EU foreign policy, and enable it to destroy the welfare of its peoples at the touch of a button.

The immigration crisis and the rise of fascism

These two crises are closely linked. The recent refugee wave that hit the EU in 2015 it was exploited by the extreme parties that restructured their ranks and the stairs of the European governments began to rise. The latest elections in France, Germany, Austria and Sweden illustrate this scene. Despite the fact that moderate forces continue to control EU leadership, the ability of extremist parties to prevail in the near future cannot be questioned, unless European leaders take drastic actions. Yes, Moscow has a direct relationship with this situation. Its support for the Assad regime in Syria was the main reason for the surge wave to Europe. Also, Moscow’s economic support to the far-right parties in Europe and through social media is constantly strengthening them.

Trump’s Conservative Administration

The “America First” slogan during Trump’s election campaign remained the focus of its policy since its arrival in the White House. For the first time, Washington has imposed tariffs on imports from the EU. The tightening of relations between Washington and Moscow is negatively reflected in the Union. Maintaining the same policy by the US in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq has a negative effect on the Union by sucking it financially, especially in Afghanistan, which can only end at the negotiating table. In Syria, focusing US action on the east, thus allowing Assad to reorganize, will be the start of retaliation by new extremist groups and EU countries will be at the top of the targets. Trump’s recent move to end the nuclear agreement with Iran and impose financial sanctions on it was a powerful stab at the already tired European economy. The multiple visits of EU leaders in which they attempted to put an end to this crisis, have been fruitless and EU was put at a dangerous crossroads, either following the American decision and face financial losses or bypassing US sanctions, which would mark the end of NATO and the US economic and military support to the Union.

The protests sweeping several French cities lately are a clear indication of the instability the Union is facing at the time. However, in the middle of the storm, there is way out. The Russian threat can stop by pushing Washington to move more in Ukraine and Syria. Ending the war in Afghanistan and pushing for a political solution in Syria will put an end to the refugee crisis and lead to the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees home, eliminating the most important tool for the parties of the European extreme right. Finally, the EU can cover its gas needs through other countries such as Qatar, Libya, Algeria and Azerbaijan and thus be freed from Russian extortion. The above solutions are feasible at the moment, but the delay of their implementation leads day by day the European Union to the mass collapse.