Is the EU too divided for a fresh start?

The EU has a strong position in the Brexit negotiations and the new Berlin-Paris axis is inspiring hope among many pro-Europeans. Nevertheless the EU's crisis is far from over, many commentators believe - not least because of the deep rifts dividing eastern and western member states.

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L'Obs (FR) /

Don't disappoint young Eastern Europeans

A new start in the EU would send an important signal to those in Eastern Europe who are now challenging their governments' excesses, L'Obs believes:

“This can only happen if these populations see the European project as a dynamic and attractive social model: the very opposite of the bureaucratic, intrusive, centralising monster depicted by their leaders. An 'East-exit' would leave the people of Central and Eastern Europe behind closed doors, with populist leaders and no future. That is by no means desirable, and the best way to avoid it is by breathing new life into the European project. Time is running out, but the young Poles who have staved off the menaces to their freedom in recent days have shown that they believe in this goal.”

Mérce (HU) /

Us versus them attitude spreading

Any sensible debate about Europe has become impossible in Hungary, journalist Szilárd István Pap writes on opinion portal Kettős Mérce:

“After the bouyant optimism of the nineties and early noughties, discussion about the EU has become increasingly polarised in this part of the world. Two camps have emerged in almost all EU countries in the region: that of the Eurosceptics and that of the pro-Europeans. In Hungary the ruling Fidesz party wants more nation state while the opposition wants more Europe. ... Those who oppose this 'us versus them' mentality are automatically regarded as traitors. That's why there are no longer any Fidesz politicians willing to say good things about the EU, and no members of the opposition who criticise Brussels. This form of hysteria makes any constructive debate about the EU impossible.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

The most effective action against rule breakers

Although the EU can't throw states that break the rules out of the Union it can put pressure on them in other ways, Jutarnji list believes:

“The British decided to leave, which the EU treaty allows. What's not allowed - or at least what's not so straight-forward - is to kick out a state. Other Eastern European states will side with Poland and Hungary and seek to protect them, which will only deepen the rifts between the 'old, developed and democratic' EU and its 'eastern, hypocritical and less democratic' members. ... People have long been calling for cuts in funding to states that don't respect the EU's values. These demands are now growing ever louder.”