Parallel paths, ” “dangerous crossroads ” “

On the eve of the European Council of March 19-20 the terror attack in Tunis "irrupted" into community political life. Which answer by the 28?

Ahead of the “Spring” European Council – as it is called in Brussels – the tragic attack in Tunis caused an unexpected turn in heads of Government and State meeting. The summit, scheduled months ago, was meant to address three main themes: Energy Union, Economy (investments, growth, employment, budgetary policies) and “foreign affairs”, with focus on the situation in Libya and Ukraine. However, as happened an infinite number of times before, topical news irrupted into the Justus Lipsius building, where national leaders convene, thereby completely reshaping the agenda of the debate. Indeed, what happened in Tunisia cannot leave Europe indifferent: owing to humanitarian, political, geostrategic, migration and economic reasons… Thus was repeated a structural condition of the integration process: namely, at European level issues are broached on the basis of a pre-arranged medium to long term agenda, while outside EU seats reality follows a different pace with differing urgencies and priorities. It would be wrong to say that the progress of the EU is detached from historical developments; it would be both unfair and ungenerous. However, it can be noted that community policies timeframe often does not reflect the demands that current events bring to the fore ranging from accelerated “global challenges” to emergencies that break out inside and outside EU borders, in various different fields. Indeed, it could be said that politics, in its democratic understanding, has always required a certain amount of time to gain information about the facts, to identify solutions in compliance with regulations and rules and according to available resources, in order to create consensus on the devised solutions. And while national policies require an appropriate timescale, the amount of time required by European policies is all the more important considering that each decision is the result of the agreement of a plurality of voices and interests. Thus it is no surprise that while press and online news refer to up-to-the-minute events, the meetings held in EU institutions strive to get into gear, giving the impression of not being able to handle every-day news. A blatant example of this is the laborious response of the EU and its member States to the financial and economic crisis that broke out in 2008. Another example is the migration question: while boats carrying migrants sink in the Mediterranean and southern-Europe Countries are left alone to deal with the situations of refugees, thousands of kilometres away discussions are centered on whether the EU as a whole should take the burden of what isn’t simply a dispassionate “migration phenomenon” but a real and true humanitarian emergency, with thousands of human lives that need to be saved from death. Thus over the past days the Council continued its slow and cautious progress towards the Energy Union, it once more discussed the “European semester”, the economic reforms, the Transatlantic trade and investment agreement, Greece’s bailout, the role of the ECB. In the meantime, in Tunis, in Libya, in the Eastern regions of Ukraine and in the Middle East terrorism, the Caliphate, the war in Syria, Russia’s aggressiveness, and citizens’ security hit front-page news… These two paths – EU integration and current events – are only apparently distant as they forcibly overlap and intertwine unexpectedly, mutually influencing each other just like anomalous tracks which run parallel while occasionally converging, overlapping, at even colliding. An in-depth evaluation of the outcomes of the March 19-20 summit will show whether the events of the past days have actually given new impetus to the European Union.

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