In our time, three phenomena tend to come to mind when considering Europe’s contemporary problems. One is the economic difficulties troubling not only small European nations, such as Greece and Portugal, but also large countries, such as Italy and France. The second is the influx of migrants likely to continue sweeping across Europe’s borders over the next few years. As the Paris atrocities have demonstrated, no amount of political correctness can disguise the fact that the migration issue cannot be separated from the problem of Islamist terrorism. And that raises a third matter, which is on everyone’s mind but which few European leaders seem willing to address in any comprehensive way: is the Islamic religion, taken on its own terms, compatible with the values and institutions of Western culture?
This may sound apocalyptic. However, it’s close to becoming a fact. Germany, which is willing to take in 800,000 to 1 million refugees every year, is incapable of turning them into full-fledged citizens. On the contrary: The refugees, who are mostly Muslims, have turned Germany into a territory in which they will set the tone and turn into the real rulers.
Just like Germany failed in its efforts to take in hundreds of thousands of Turkish work migrants – who have so far preserved their language, their traditional customs, including vendetta and “honor killing,” and who don’t even turn to civil courts to settle issues like murder but prefer their traditional courts – it definitely won’t manage with the millions of Muslims it is willing to take in now. Not to mention France or Sweden, which are even less prepared.
The EU plan also details the number of refugees who are supposed to be taken in by Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia. But this is just further proof of the misunderstanding of the continent’s leaders: It’s clear that not a single refugee will agree to settle in countries like Bulgaria and Romania, which are among the poorest in Europe, and it’s not at all certain that countries like Poland and the Czech Republic will agree to take in the refugees.
It’s also strange that Europe’s leaders are unaware of the fact that the large majority of their public doesn’t even want the refugees. So in conclusion, it seems that Europe is once again ignoring the dangers it is facing and is failing to realize that this is the beginning of the end of the old continent.
Merkel and Juncker explicitly linked new national frontier controls across Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone to a collapse of the single market at the core of the bloc, and of the euro. Both would ravage jobs and the economy.
“Without Schengen … the euro has no point,” Juncker told a New Year news conference on Friday. Historic national resentments were re-emerging, he added, accusing his generation of EU leaders of squandering the legacy of the union’s founders, survivors of World War Two.
Merkel has not suggested — yet — that Berlin could follow neighbors like Austria and Denmark in further tightening border checks to deny entry to irregular migrants. But she has made clear how Europe might suffer.
“No one can pretend that you can have a common currency without being able to cross borders relatively easily,” she said at a business event last week.
In private, German officials are more explicit. “We have until March, the summer maybe, for a European solution,” said a second German official. “Then Schengen goes down the drain.”
A senior EU official was equally blunt: “There is a big risk that Germany closes. From that, no Schengen … There is a risk that the February summit could start a countdown to the end.”
The next summit of EU leaders one month from now follows meetings last year that were marked by agreement on a migration strategy as well as rows over failures to implement it.
Of the 160,000 asylum seekers EU leaders agreed in September to distribute among member states, fewer than 300 have been moved.
Berlin and Brussels continue to press for more distribution across Europe. But few place much hope in that — one senior German official calls it “flogging a dead horse”.
The lack of leadership has had considerable consequences for driving the European agenda and boat forward. I would simply argue that the last European leader with a true vision for Europe was the former High Representative Mr. Solana. Since the Treaty of Lisbon, Europe does not count a vibrant leader neither within the European institutions or within national arenas. At the surprise of many, the President of the European Council, Mr. Van Rompuy, has emerged as one of the few leaders, the same cannot be said about Ms. Ashton, or Mr. Hollande, Mr. Cameron, and to some extent Ms. Merkel. Without falling into nostalgia, politicians such as Schuman, Monnet, Adenauer, Delors have been considerable engines fostering the development and construction of the EU.
Current Heads of State and Government are behaving along their institutional denominations, just as a head, not leader, as they are unable to foster inspiration in their styles of governance. Short-term political decisions have become the motto in order to simply seek for reelection. True political risk and vision have disappeared from political debates. Politics as usual and lack of political will – as underlined many times by Dominique Moïsi – have killed Europe and are silently affecting the functioning of the US government.