Brookings: The eclipse of the European Union’s global influence

With political parties critical of the European Union certain to make large gains in next month’s European Parliament elections and personalist nationalist leadership on the rise around the world, the EU’s capacity to promote liberal democratic values and global cooperation is weakening, argue Célia Belin and Ted Reinert. This post originally appeared in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.

etween May 23 and May 26, 2019, twenty-seven European countries (twenty-eight, if the United Kingdom does not manage to leave the European Union by then) with a combined population of nearly 450 million will hold elections for the European Parliament. Political parties critical of the EU are certain to make large gains, winning up to a third of the Parliament’s seats according to some estimates. Since 2014, nationalists and populists have increased their influence across the continent amidst political aftershocks from the global economic and eurozone crises, spikes in migration flows and terrorism, the Brexit referendum, and Donald Trump’s election. Political forces hostile to the European Union now sit in government in Budapest, Warsaw, Rome, and Vienna, and have increased their political representation in Berlin and Paris. A triumph of Euroskeptics at the European elections could profoundly restrict European policy-making in matters of trade, sanctions, or migration, as illustrated in a recent report by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The eclipse of the European Union’s global influence


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