2014 is considered a very crucial year for the European Union. This year we will see whether or not the post-Second World War process of closer European integration not just hits more hurdles or goes into reverse undoing some of the biggest gains. This year is also considered important the bloc is now under the Greek presidency. Greece is one country whose economic crisis has created huge problems for the bloc. Athens has been severely critical of the EU and has blamed the bloc for aggravating its problems. The fact that Athens is now holding the presidency will not help alleviate its suffering. Germany and other heavyweights are the main decision makers in the Union and Athens can only keep crying.
The biggest and most immediate challenge to the goal of closer EU integration is the unresolved eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, there is no sign of an early solution the crisis, with all parties sticking to their stands. The European leaders need to execute a policy of U-turn and loosen its rigid austerity strategy if a renewed crisis is to be avoided later this year, given the feeble pacr of economic recovery in Greece and other crisis-hit countries.
The onus is now on the new German government to adopt a more liberal and kind policy. The new German coalition must realize that without a new strategy based on debt cancellation and a sincere, concerted drive to boost investment in the affected countries”, there may be no way to avoid a second, more deadly crisis. Greece has already started sounding the warnings, but there has been favourable response. Some experts believe there are signs of a change in German policy, because the alternative to a liberal attitude will a collapse of the bloc in which Germany has invested heavily.
The second most important challenge to the EU is the rise of far-right nationalisms across Europe. This presents a deadly threat to the goal of a democratic, peaceful and socially just Europe. The far-right has made solid presence in many European countries and the forthcoming European parliament elections are expected to further strengthen their presence. History has proved that success for the far right will not bring them to power. But they can create damage to the integrity and strength of the bloc and cause its fragmentation.
But it’s Germany which will have to bear responsibility for the future of EU. If Chancellor Angela Merkel chooses to step down from her rigid stance and agree to a liberal policy, other weaker members will stand to gain immensely and the economy of the bloc will improve, prolonging its life. If Berlin acts tough, the EU will disintegrate, or at least will be far more emaciated•