Following on from earlier introductory article, the first scenario laid out in the white paper, is one in which the EU27 continues down the path the Union is currently on. Under this plan, the EU would maintain its focus on delivering its positive reform agenda. This is supported by President Junker’s ‘New Start for Europe’ and the ‘Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap’, published in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The former, represents the continued focus by the EU on jobs and growth, while the latter calls for greater cooperation on migration and terror. This scenario would also see the EU regularly update its priorities and tackle new challenges as they arise, much like how the Union currently operates.
By the year 2025, this means that the EU will have continued to invest in the growing digital technology sector and stepping up investment in energy and transport, all the while keeping its commitments on jobs, financial stability and strengthening the single market. This however, will not lead to any radical change in the EU, instead it will provide incremental improvements to the system, with efforts being increased only when consensus is reached. In this scenario, the EU would remain somewhat fractured on foreign policy issues, external borders would continue to be under national control, while being reinforced by cooperation. Crucially, the EU would not speak with one voice on issues but progress toward such a goal would likely be made with greater collaboration regarding counter terror measures.
By carrying on in the same fashion, the EU27 would also continue to lead the fight against climate change, continue striving to provide stability in the financial markets and champion sustainable development across the globe. By pursuing its positive reform agenda, results will be delivered, based upon a shared purpose within the Union. Pursuing this agenda will also help maintain and expand citizen’s rights across member states. However, despite these positive aspects, the EU would remain vulnerable to sudden and unforeseen events and crises due to a lack of coherent policy, as was exemplified during the recent migration crisis.
For each of the five scenarios presented in the white paper, the effects on six key policy areas are also examined. These policies strike at the core of the EU programme and illustrate how each scenario will produce a changed EU by 2025.
Firstly, the Single Market and Trade; under this scenario the single market would be strengthened and extended into the energy and digital sectors. In addition, the EU would continue to negotiate progressive trade deals with other major economic trading partners.
Secondly, Economic and Monetary Union; carrying on will likely produce only incremental progress over the years, with some members resisting complete harmonisation. Thirdly, The Schengen Region; the EU would in all probability, experience an increase in cooperation on security issues, as well as improved coordination on migration policy, with steps towards a common asylum policy.
Similarly, the fourth area of Foreign Policy will see only modest progress toward a single position, but will also enjoy closer collaborations on defence matters. Fifth, the EU Budget; much as today, the budget will be modified as needed. Finally, the Delivery of Promises; due to the lack of a single voice for Europe, the decision-making process will remain complex. This will inevitably lead to a gap between what is expected from the EU and what is delivered.
To provide a sense of how this will affect the public, the white paper also offers snapshots of what each scenario’s practical implications would be. In scenario one, increased investment in digital technology, leads to highspeed broadband across all member states. Border checks in Schengen, remain rare, while states are incentivised to produce and clean and renewable energy. However, trade deals with other nations stays a drawn-out process.
Thus, scenario one produces an EU27 making incremental progress in many areas, but lacking the ability to act quickly and decisively in response to major challenges as the lack of coherence between nations and no EU authority to speak with one voice, slows the process considerably.
Senator Neale Richmond is the Fine Gael spokesman on EU Affairs in Seanad Éireann