These seem to be changing times for Europe.
Just one year ago, Brexit referendum marked the highest victory of the populist rhetoric, fuelling the worst prediction over an imminent collapse of the European Union. Adding insult to the injury, the following British cabinet reshuffle brought to power supporters of the “hard” separation from the Union, impersonated by the PM Theresa May and her Brexit minister David Davis. The goal was to remove Britain from the Internal Market and the Custom of Union but mostly from the Freedom of Movement, which could guarantee to the United Kingdom full control over migration fluxes and legislations.
The Union passed through one of the darkest moment of its history: at the mercy of the rise of nationalistic, far rights or populistic parties all along Europe, a new unfriendly United States, an officially undemocratic Turkey, while it still stuck with slow economy and migrant crisis. France elections represented its very last shot.
One year later, things seem to be changed, with a sudden but decisive twist of luck for Europe. The decisive victory of the pro-Europe Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections, marked by the defeat of Le Pen party inside the following legislative elections had saved the Union while bringing a swift inside the communitarian discourse (just think to the re-opened issues of the expensive and maybe no more justifiable monthly migration of the European Parliament between Strasbourg and Bruxelles). Eventually, the lost majority inside the British Parliament due to last week elections make Theresa May position over a hard Brexit highly improbable.
How could this blessing in disguise change so deeply Union’s fate?
First, Macron’s strong position inside French Parliament combined with its modern and critic Europeanism will bring new energy and strength to the call for reforms and changes inside European Union. As he stated before the elections, Europe need to face the situation: people are angry and no more willing to bare the dysfunctions of the Union.
As Macron’s election itself showed, in order to defeat populism, both national and European politicians must be able to construct a dialogue and understand the daily struggles of the greatest amount of populations, regardless of gender, nationality, social status and religion. Inclusiveness is the new winning card for all political appeals.
The new global pro-Europe citizens had finally raise their voices against the danger of a far-right party leaded France, and even if the Brexit negotiation could provoke a spread of “exit” feeling inside other European countries, European Union seems to have taken some steps away from the populist edge.
Secondly, as the upcoming Brexit negotiations will determine next Europe’s shape, the highly improbability of a “Hard Line” outcome is extremely relevant. A definitive scission of UK from the Custom of Duty and the Internal market is unlikely for two main reasons: first the electorate clearly expressed itself against it and, secondly, the Parliament has obtained back full control over the negotiations proposals coming from the Cabinet, moreover, the ¾ parliamentarians are anti-Brexit.
Hence, European Union will certainly have a predominant position inside the debate. However, due to the “hung” situation, the ambiguous positions of the opposition over Brexit and the confusion inside Theresa May lines after such political suicide, the outcome of the negotiations are far to be foreseeable.
Summing up, European horizon seems to be brighter. This is for sure a turning point for Europe as the danger of a chain reaction between Trump, Brexit, LePen victory appears halted. However, the real safety of the Union will depend on its capacity to build constructive dialogues with Britain, to solve its open issues such as immigration and eastern disaffection, and to reform its institutions for the sake of all European citizens’ trust.
Of course, we will be here to watch Union’s next moves.