Who is to blame for the EU crisis?

In his State of the Union address, EU Commission President Juncker complained about lacking solidarity among the member states. The EU is in an "existential crisis" after the Brexit vote, Juncker said to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Some commentators also pin the blame for the state of the EU on the individual states. Others accuse Juncker of shifting responsibility to others.

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Jyllands-Posten (DK) / 15 September 2016

Insight is the first step toward recovery

Juncker has openly addressed the dire state of the EU, Jyllands-Posten writes in praise:

“The current situation has revealed what is both the strength and the weakness of the EU: the fact that the European Union isn't stronger when the nation states do not agree. Many believe the solution to the refugee crisis does not lie with the individual countries, but have trouble agreeing on what competences should be ceded to the EU. Similarly, many agree that the construction of an efficient single market will help create jobs and foster competitiveness. Yet the freedom of movement that the single market requires is controversial in many EU countries. ... Juncker has recognised that the EU is in a crisis. This is the first step towards finding a solution.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) / 15 September 2016

Juncker makes no mention of his own mistakes

Juncker's shifting the responsibility for the state of the EU to the individual states is unimpressive to say the least, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments:

“Anyone expecting Juncker to bring up his own mistakes rather than pointing to those of others was in for a disappointment. Far more important, in any event, would have been to say what the EU should stand for. For instance he could have said that the Commission has done too little to achieve a true equilibrium in Europe, which is why the EU now plans to press on with developing the monetary union. Instead he passed the buck to the individual states. Future solutions must be worked out with them, not without them. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't happen at all.”

De Tijd (BE) / 15 September 2016

Strengthen the nation states to strengthen the EU

The nation states must first regain the trust of their citizens before they start thinking about how to tackle the challenges at the European level, De Tijd contends:

“On the one hand the EU is accused of being powerless when it comes to decisions on migration. On the other it is criticised for being a super-state, undemocratically snatching power away from others. … So the response to this contradictory criticism must be contradictory. The European Union must regain the trust of the EU member states in the national parliaments. From there it must try to get some results and strengthen its legitimacy. This can only work if pragmatic decisions are taken as to where political consensus and progress are possible and where they aren't. The migration policy can only really get going if the EU takes a step back and allows each country to decide for itself how many refugees to take in. That could give a pan-European policy fresh impetus.”

Naftemporiki (GR) / 15 September 2016

EU more controversial than ever

There is little hope that the European Union can reach a common denominator on the big issues, Naftemporiki sighs:

“At their last summit meetings the EU member states decided that today's challenges demand common measures and joint solutions - from the refugee crisis to financial stability to the fight against terror and tax evasion. ... In practice everything is heading in the opposite direction. Fences are going up, the Schengen Agreement is effectively being abolished. And while we keep hearing about increased cooperation and exchange of information in the fight against terrorism, according to Europol not much has happened on this score either. ... The Union has little elbow room for taking important decisions. The governments should bear in mind what Juncker stressed: history won't remember your name, it will remember your determination or your mistakes.”

Super Express (PL) / 14 September 2016

Europe still saddled by problems

Europe is not in good shape at all this summer of 2016, the Polish left-wing politician and ex-prime minister Leszek Miller concurs in a guest commentary for Super Express:

“After all that has happened in the last twelve months it is difficult to remain optimistic. The British are leaving Brussels' sphere of influence. The migration crisis and the economic crisis are in a phase of stagnation without any sign of a solution. The Europeans' frustration and anxiety are growing. And the terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and Germany have exposed the great weaknesses in the security systems of the individual member states and the EU. But at least there are some positive developments. The [EU's] GDP has slightly increased, the Greek economy still exists and the voices of those who say the Eurozone is breaking up have grown quieter.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) / 14 September 2016

The Commission's embarrassingly empty hands

Juncker has little to show for himself after almost two years in office, NRC Handelsblad writes, fearing there will be no end to the criticism of the Commission president:

“His most important goal was to develop a perspective for Europe, and on that score he has achieved little. The Commission wanted to play a major role in the refugee crisis, but the member states didn't let it. Also regarding Greece, Juncker has been unable to seize the initiative. The result after two years: a Commission that has little influence on key issues. An EU leadership with embarrassingly empty hands. ... [Despite his achievements] the 61-year-old Luxembourger must above all face criticism. The Commission has always been a favourite punching bag for national politicians who can't come up with any better solutions themselves. And since the Brexit vote there are more and more of them.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) / 14 September 2016

Still too little Europe and too little Union

The format of the State of the Union address is a little too ambitious for the EU Commission president, the Tages-Anzeiger surmises:

“The US president's annual State of the Union Address was taken as the model for this address not so long ago. That said, the head of the EU Commission has only a fraction of the power of the American head of state. Moreover the member states are increasingly calling the shots in the EU. ... Juncker, too, is painfully aware of this. ... The refugee deal with Turkey is hanging in the balance, if anything the centrifugal forces in the EU have increased. There's too little Europe and too little Union in the European Union, Juncker said one year ago. He could say the same thing today.”

Les Echos (FR) / 14 September 2016

Keep expanding EU as a political project

To ensure its survival the EU must continue to develop the projects it has begun, Les Echos advises:

“The organisation of reception centres for refugees must be continued. The Juncker plan for supporting investment, whose successes have remained modest despite announcements to the contrary, must be made more dynamic. Europe's borders must be strengthened and the exchange of information between the judiciary and the police in the Schengen area speeded up, as was originally planned but never implemented. The Erasmus programme, Europe's flagship symbol in the public eye, must be made more democratic. The 'guarantee for the youth', which foresees job or training offers for all young people, must become reality. Nothing is easy, but everything remains possible. Provided Europe is constructed as a political project and not as a stepping stone for a job at a US commercial bank.”

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