Tag Archives: Europe

The Trump Effect: Could Trump Cause a Backlash against the Rise of Populist Parties in Europe?

By Devon Winsor

Just as President Donald Trump’s far right ideals have galvanized support in the United States, a rise in similar ideals has occurred in Europe as well. The success of the United Kingdom Independence Party’s campaign to leave the European Union, the rise of Marie Le Pen and the National Front in France and the Five Star Movement in Italy, are just three of a multitude of examples of the resurgence of far right parties and ideals in Europe. These groups have seized momentum after President Trump’s surprising win in the U.S., citing his victory as a reason for their future success. President Trump’s win also illustrated to the parties’ supporters that citizens around the world share their views and concerns. However, Trump’s controversial vernacular during his campaign, specifically about women, and his subsequent policies implemented during his first few weeks in office have caused a backlash in Europe that could be detrimental to these far right parties.

The Women’s March the day after President Trump’s inauguration did not only occur in cities throughout America, but in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Barcelona, and many other cities across Europe. According to CNN, approximately 100,000 people participated in the Women’s March in London, and the Mayor of London even spoke out condemning President Trump’s views on Islam. These responses to Trump in a region unaffected by President Trump’s laws regarding women indicate the growth of unity against the principles that President Trump represents. Although the European far right parties that have seen an increase in support over the past few years do not threaten women’s rights, their alignment with President Trump could cause a backlash from a group otherwise unaffected by their policies.
Furthermore, President Trump’s controversial executive order that banned immigration from seven majority Muslim countries was met with disdain in Europe as well. Immigration has remained one of the most important and controversial issues in the European Union, especially after the refugee crisis, and it has been one of the main causes in the rise of the far right parties. For example, in a study performed by the British Election Study Team, the most prominent concern for British voters that desired to leave the European Union was immigration. This is the topic in which President Trump’s policies most aligned with the far right parties and their supporters. However, leaders throughout Europe have criticized Trump’s Muslim ban, including Angel Merkel, Theresa May and Francois Hollande.

These leaders, however, represent mainstream politics and their opinion is most likely not highly valued by those that already support the far right parties particularly because his ban has been praised by the leaders of the movement. Therefore, President Trump’s policies may not impact the support for the far right parties, but they could unite other groups against these parties, improving voter turnout in favor of other candidates in order to prevent these parties from gaining power.

In particular, Trump’s policies may galvanize momentum for politically disengaged citizens in Europe that have more centrist political views. President Trump’s policies have been considered some of the most divisive policies in history, being criticized by politicians and other public figures throughout the world, yet his successful campaign indicates that his values resonate with citizens. Thus, considering how divisive the current political climate remains, European citizens who may otherwise not engage in politics may feel the need to become involved in order to prevent similar policies from being implemented, especially after seeing the results of the Muslim ban, which were highly publicized in the media, with a particular focus on Muslims who could no longer return to their home in the U.S.

Despite the fact that polling in favor of the far right movements such as the National Front has remained strong, the future decline of these groups may be imminent. President Trump’s divisive nature could awaken a group of citizens in Europe that have seen the results of his policies and desire to prevent them from spreading to Europe. Those that already support strict immigration laws will continue to praise President Trump, but they may not realize that aligning themselves with someone as divisive as President Trump could cause citizens who prioritize other political issues, such as women’s rights, to more vocally support opposition parties.

Is Schengen Outdated?

By Greta Gietz Davidson College Class of 2015

The European Union, especially the post-1990 version, was founded on ideals of continental integration, peace, unity and freedom. In a continent that was in a seemingly constant state of war, a battlefield for millennia, such ideals were groundbreaking and incredibly meaningful. Now, a little over thirty years after the Schengen Agreement, an embodiment of these ideals and a centerpiece of the European project, was signed and only twenty years after the open borders between twenty-six European countries were fully implemented, insurmountable pressures face its future. The vast number of migrants crossing into the Schengen zone in the Mediterranean and the concern over terrorism are exposing the flaws and incomplete development of the open borders agreement. This moment of crisis could either erode the European project or significantly improve its structures for a stronger, long-lasting future. It is clear that something needs to change, not just in the name of security and control, but to keep the re-emerging populist parties at bay.

The Schengen zone is the world’s largest passport-free area comprising 400 million people from twenty-two EU and four non-EU countries. While EU citizens do not require a visa to visit or work in EU countries outside of Schengen, such as the UK, Schengen has facilitated the building of a European identity. Not only is Schengen practical, but it embodies 21st century governance in a post-nation state, globalized world by promoting the exchange of people and ideas across cultures and nations. With the open borders came the Euro, further integrating the European market and easing travel across the continent.

Can this almost utopian, deeply symbolic structure survive the migration crisis and, most recently, the growing fear that terrorists are exploiting Europe’s open borders, infiltrating the heart of Europe?

Since the attacks of November 13, France has reinstated border controls and Angela Merkel expressed that the migration crisis is raising “the question of whether or not the Schengen area can be maintained in the long term.” The investigations into the Paris attacks have suggested that at least one of the terrorists entered the Schengen area through Greece, disguised as a Syrian refugee a few months ago. It has also been concluded that the attacks had been planned in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, and that the attackers had moved freely between Belgium and France. Furthermore, as several of the suspects associated with the attacks had been known to French and Belgian intelligence, the investigations have uncovered the lack of cooperation and communication between the French and Belgian and other European authorities, despite sharing an open border.

These failures have exposed the shortcomings of Schengen and a scepticism that has always lurked in the background. There is no centralised effort or standard of policing the external borders and ensuring security within the member states. Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, is based in Warsaw, far away from the migration crisis, and it lacks funds and manpower to be effective. Until now, policing the external borders was largely a national responsibility. The Greek and Italian officials on Mediterranean islands and in coastal regions

carried the burden and were quickly overwhelmed and overrun by the migration influx. It was therefore completely out of the hands of countries like Germany and Sweden, the destinations for many migrants. Despite the Schengen zone practically being one country in terms of borders, there is no centralised intelligence. Many countries see a pan-European intelligence agency as too large a surrender of national sovereignty, but recent events arguably demonstrate the dangers in not joining intelligence forces. Even without Schengen, it will be necessary to invest in collaborative intelligence efforts. Europe is small and cooperation is vital.

Until now European integration has always developed and grown, now, for the first time, the EU might have reached its limits. While the borderless zone eases trade and speeds up deliveries, economic reasons will not be decisive. The free movement of people and goods will hardly be hindered by reinstated passport controls. Returning to traditional borders might satisfy the unease among the public, but it would indubitably be a big symbolic hit to European integration and potentially erode European identity. It will also make collective action on migration and security issues more difficult.

Instead, the EU should take recent events as a reality check. The flaws have become evident and need to be tackled by completing and finessing Schengen’s development: collectively strengthen the external borders by creating a common standard and giving Frontex more funds and manpower, and improving pan-European intelligence and communication. Schengen can only be effectively upheld if all members are committed to the same standards and processes.

Image Source: schengenvisainfo.com