Can Europe Make It?

The last European Council meeting in June

It symbolises all that is wrong both in the Brexit strategy of the British government and the EU decision-making process.

Andrea Pisauro
5 July 2018

Political leaders Emmanuel Macron and Sebastian Kurtz attend June 2018 EU Council meeting. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.Every three months or so, 26 males and 3 females meet together somewhere on our continent to make big decisions about the future of…us, European citizens, including those with a British passport.

The European Council, in charge of defining EU political priorities and comprising of the heads of state or government of the member states (plus its President Donald Tusk) met in Brussels on June 28-29.

It was supposed to be a pivotal meeting: the council had to finalise the Brexit agreement before opening the discussion in the British and European Parliaments, and to finally agree on a long-overdue reform of the EU policy on refugees.

None of this happened. The Brexit discussion didn’t even start, despite the desperate attempts of Theresa May to raise her voice over the security row.

On refugees, the Dublin regulation reform voted through resoundingly by a large majority of the EU Parliament in November was never on the table of the meeting. The 'Migration Deal' signed after a long night of negotiations is an agreement only in name. Heads of governments contradicting each other over what they signed together were treating refugees and migrants as pawns to be moved about; their only temporary solution being shameful bribes to failed authoritarian regimes allowing parking our migrants in their camps. The opposite of the coherent, humane, sensible migration policy that we need and that DiEM25 comprehensive policy programme indeed suggests.

It is no accident

The failure in achieving any significant progress on the two single issues defining our time is telling. It symbolises all that is wrong both in the Brexit strategy of the British government and the EU decision-making process.

It is no accident. The Brexit fiasco just mirrors the flaws of the baroque and ineffective EU decision-making process. “Democracy-free zone’ is the description our co-founder Yanis Varoufakis long ago gave to the European Union.

It applies perfectly to the meetings of an EU council which ignores months of discussions in the Parliament, the reform it approved, the continental mobilisation for #EuropeanSolidarity triggered by Elly Schlein, the MEP who drafted it, in which DiEM25 UK was proud to take part.

But it applies just as well to the Brexit process, hijacked by a government of the few, who took back their control over the democratic will of the people, denied a say on the whole process; over Parliament, denied a meaningful vote even if the government’s (lack of) strategy were to fail; and over the devolved administrations, denied a power of veto on any aspect over this historical decision. With no time in the House to debate the Bill. It is no wonder Ian Blackford and his SNP MPs marched out.

This Summit has produced a double failure which makes a no-deal Brexit more likely and an escalation of the political tensions over the refugee crisis a certainty. A representation of what more and more looks like a no-deal continent where nothing is agreed until everyone is dissatisfied. A democratic limbo which makes us all citizens of nowhere. This Summit has produced a double failure which makes a no-deal Brexit more likely and an escalation of the political tensions over the refugee crisis a certainty.

‘Citizens of nowhere’

‘Citizens of nowhere’ will indeed be the case for EU citizens in Britain and UK citizens in the EU if no Brexit agreement is achieved by March 29, 2019, an outcome more likely by the day. Citizens of nowhere as is indeed already the case for migrants making the journey to Italy or Greece with no agreed EU Asylum-seeking policy. Citizens of nowhere as the thousands of migrants who each year fail to make it to Greece or Italy and are bounced back to Libya if they don’t lose their lives in the Mediterranean first, like the three little kids drowned last Friday. Citizens of nowhere as indeed will be the case for all EU citizens, if the process of disintegration brought about by the retrograde nationalism on the rise all over Europe today takes over the EU institutions in May 2019. Citizens of nowhere in a no-deal continent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can still take back control of our continent’s future. Another Europe is still possible. This is why DiEM25 has taken on the journey to democratise both the Brexit process and the EU institutions. This is why you should join us now, today. The future's not ours to see. But it is ours to shape.

Rainforest defenders: How to fight the climate crisis from the ground up

Too often the people of the Amazon are seen as victims, but there are young local activists who defend their lands and communities – and are succeeding. openDemocracy has just won a major award for telling their stories in striking, beautiful photography and video.

Join us for a free live discussion on 28 January at 5pm UK time/12pm ET.

Hear from:

Pablo Albarenga Sony World Photographer of the Year, 2020

Francesc Badia i Dalmases Director, democraciaAbierta – openDemocracy's Latin America project

Nora Moraga-Lewy Rainforest Journalism Fund manager, Pulitzer Center

Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy

Get weekly updates on Europe A thoughtful weekly email of economic, political, social and cultural developments from the storm-tossed continent. Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData