(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  The Future of the EU

  25 Debates

Over the next 12 months, the citizens of the EU are to discuss what kind of Europe they want for the future. At the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe on Sunday in Strasbourg, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to listen closely to what the people have to say. Commentators point to potential pitfalls.

Weeks of debate about the distribution of posts, no common position on migration after years of controversy, and the looming prospect of Brexit: these are just some of the problems the EU is currently grappling with. But not all commentators see the European project as having failed in the face of these conflicts. As the new parliamentary term begins they make suggestions for how to improve cooperation.

An eventful year has begun for Europe: Britain is planning to leave the EU in March and a new European Parliament will be elected in May. Commentators offer their predictions and describe 2019 as a year that could decide the fate of the European Union.

Economist Thomas Piketty has made an appeal to save Europe in a manifesto. Together with dozens of well-known figures from politics, business and academia he proposes levying harmonised pan-European taxes on companies, wealth and carbon emissions and using the money for social purposes. The continent lacks social ambition, and this is strengthening anti-European movements, he argues.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both recently promoted the idea of creating a European army. Commentators examine why the two leaders are keen on the initiative and hope that they will pursue it with resolve.

In his last State of the Union Address, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has appealed to the EU's sense of self-confidence. Europe must "become a more sovereign actor on the world stage" and take its future into its own hands, the EU Commission president stressed. Commentators focus on what they view as the EU's most pressing problems.

German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron met on Tuesday at the chancellor's retreat Schloss Meseberg, where they agreed on reforms for the EU - including a Eurozone budget. Commentators note that the meeting was overshadowed by Germany's row over refugee policy, but draw different conclusions as to the impact this will have on the Franco-German motor.

Angela Merkel has presented her plans for a joint EU security and refugee policy and a stable Eurozone in a newspaper interview. This was her first public response to French President Emmanuel Macron's proposals for the EU's future. Europe's press examines whether the two leaders can bring the EU forwards together, or whether their ideas are incompatible.

154 economists have warned in a joint article against further integration of the Eurozone as proposed by Macron, Juncker and in the Berlin coalition government agreement. They criticise the planned introduction of a European monetary and investment fund and fear that money could be paid to countries that have failed to undertake reforms. Are they right to oppose the reform proposals?

French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need for EU reform during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday. The latter agreed to put together a compromise on the reforms by the middle of the year despite glaring differences of opinion. Journalists speculate on the reasons for Merkel's reticence.

The escalating debate over migration policy once again has people asking whether Europe is at all capable of concerted action on key topics for the future. Europe experts also approach the question from different angles in the media.

The EU leaders have begun their consultations on the community's budget for the 2021 to 2027 period. At the summit on the weekend German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed linking funds to criteria such as how many refugees a country takes in and observance of the rule of law. A nonsensical proposal, some commentators say. Others warn that bitter struggles over distribution lie ahead.

The European Parliament has now also taken a closer look at Martin Selmayr's controversial appointment as secretary-general of the EU Commission. With this move the former head of EU Commission President Juncker's cabinet became Brussels' top civil servant on March 1. Commentators criticise the manner in which he was appointed saying it will further tarnish the EU's image.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to make the EU more accessible to the people of Europe, proposing on Wednesday a bicameral system consisting of the EU Parliament and a council of member states. The presidents of the EU Commission and perhaps also the EU Council would be directly elected, and in the long term the two presidencies would be fused into one. Journalists ask if this will take the EU in the right direction.

With borders being sealed in reaction to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees, high unemployment, huge debts and far-right parties on the rise, Europe's integration is grinding to a halt. Difficult elections in several member states are also taking a toll. Is this major peace project doomed to fail?

No European head of state has called for a reform of the European Union as radical as the one French President Emmanuel Macron proposes. He envisions a common budget for the 19 Eurozone countries, increased harmonisation of fiscal policy and a joint EU asylum authority. What some commentators see as courageous and even risky doesn't go far enough for others.

France's President Macron annoyed several participants at the EU summit with his comment that Europe was not a supermarket but a common destiny. His words targeted the lack of willingness on the part of some states to share the burden of relocating refugees. A meeting between Macron and representatives of the Visegrád group then ended without results. A salutary confrontation or the beginning of new divisions?

"As a solution, not a problem": this is how the EU is now perceived again according to European Council President Donald Tusk. The participants at the EU's summer summit in Brussels showed unity and resolved to tighten cooperation on counter-terrorism and defence. Commentators are sceptical about how much substance underlies the announcements.

France's new president Emmanuel Macron is pushing for EU reform aimed at bringing Europe closer to its citizens and bolstering the Eurozone through euro bonds and the appointment of a European economy minister. Many commentators express their confidence in Macron's chances of succeeding but others are more sceptical and are already picking up on resistance from Berlin.

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are setting the EU on course for reforms and deeper integration of the Eurozone. However countries in Central and Eastern Europe are critical of the plans, fearing that a core Europe will leave them behind. How should the region position itself? Is conversion to the euro the only way to avoid being left on the periphery?

The European Commission has presented plans for reorganising the Eurozone that include replacing the emergency mechanisms created during the financial crisis with reforms. To avoid contention Brussels has dropped plans for a euro finance minister endowed with his own budget for the time being and is proposing European bonds whose exact function is yet to be determined. Has the Commission got its priorities right?

Where does the European Union stand today? Does it need to change? Could it even be that it has had its day? On the occasion of Europe Day on 9 May commentators examine Europe's past. They ask where their countries would be today without the EU and look at reasons to celebrate.

Having presented five possible scenarios for the future of the EU, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is seeking to fuel a debate about how the Union can overcome its crisis. Europe's commentators are discussing his "White Paper" in detail. Some, however, are sceptical and fear that his initiative could backfire.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker plans to present his ideas for the future of Europe today in preparation for the EU summit at the end of March. Last week he endorsed German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal for a multi-speed Europe. Commentators take a critical view of the idea.

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.