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European Union: historical contradictions and socio-economic crises

It seems that the idea of ​​transforming the organization into a "Europe of two speeds" in the leadership of the European Union seems to be beginning to take on real shape. However, not in the form of specific reform projects, but in the form of deepening socio-economic contradictions between different European regions. The main losers from these processes are the states of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), and indirectly - the Balkan countries, seeking to integrate into the still formally united Europe.

"Developing countries in Europe" (that is exactly what the Eastern European states have been referred to in the EU and other international organizations recently) are threatened with "serious economic shocks". This conclusion is contained in the documents of the International Monetary Fund, prepared for a regional conference in Croatian Dubrovnik.

According to the director of the European Department of the IMF, Paul Thomsen, for the last 10 years the potential for economic growth in the CEE countries has halved. And this trend is gaining more and more obvious political consequences, contributing to the growth of instability in the countries of South-Eastern Europe and threatening to drop the situation by the end of the 1990-ies.

According to Paul Thomsen, the authorities of some countries in the region doubt the benefits of European integration, because of the crisis and economic difficulties, the rapprochement between the West and the East of Europe has slowed down, and in some cases stopped altogether. As a result, according to IMF estimates, in Eastern Europe "questions began to arise" about the feasibility of conducting rather painful economic and political reforms.

The contradictions with Germany, a country that receives maximum dividends from crisis phenomena in the EU as a whole and in the eurozone in particular, also intensified. "No sincere observer can deny that the economic structures in Europe are distorted; Especially Germany, which Berlin does not seem to notice, "writes The National Interest.

No less serious problem for Eastern Europe is the continuing "brain drain" in the west. According to the IMF, over the past few years, about 20 million people have moved to Western Europe from its central and eastern regions.

The deepening of socioeconomic and political contradictions between the western and eastern flanks of the European Union is superimposed on the aggravation of interstate relations in the part of the EU that is commonly considered the "core" of European integration. In recent days, a serious diplomatic scandal broke out between Austria and Italy. The reason for this was the statement of the Austrian government about the intention to tighten border control at the border with its southern neighbor and even put armored vehicles into these areas. Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Peter Doskosil announced his readiness to send troops to the Brenner border pass (one of the main mountain passes in the Eastern Alps) and to deploy four Pandur armored personnel carriers in the Tyrol region to strengthen positions already occupied by army units in the 800 military.

The official reason for such measures is the desire of Vienna to oppose the influx of illegal immigrants entering Italy from North Africa and through the Balkan route from Turkey. "We need to prepare for the development of migration in Italy, and I expect that border control will need to be activated soon," the Austrian Defense Minister stressed. "We see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute, and we should be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to the summer of 2015." Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurtz also confirmed that his country is ready "if necessary to protect" the border with Italy by armed means.

Rome sounded the alarm. The Ambassador of Austria was urgently summoned to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for explanations. Special indignation in the political circles of Italy was caused by three circumstances.

First, Austrian law enforcement actions were followed a few days after the Italian Home Secretary demanded that other EU member states join the problem and help his country cope with the suddenly increased flow of arriving migrants. It is clear that the blocking of the Austro-Italian border by troops and armored vehicles is not at all the answer that was expected in Rome, hoping for euro-solidarity.

Secondly, the closure of the border with Austria means that tens and hundreds of thousands of refugees can settle in Italy, which inevitably threatens image and electoral losses to the acting authorities. According to UN specialized services, in the first half of this year, approximately 85 thousand refugees and migrants arrived in Italy, which is 20% higher than the corresponding figure for 2016 year. In total, in 2017 year (January-June) over 100 thousand refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Even more characteristic, according to sociological assessments, only a third of arrivals flee from military conflicts or flee from political persecution in their homeland. The remaining two-thirds are "economic migrants", mainly young single men with minimal education who are able to endanger both the labor market and the social security system in Italy and other countries where they come.

Thirdly, the Italian crisis has a historical-state aspect. South Tyrol (Südtirol / Alto-Adige) and the surrounding Tyrolean regions are subjects of long-standing territorial disputes between Austria and Italy. Both in Vienna and Rome, they are sensitive to any unilateral steps in these areas. Not surprisingly, the current maneuvers of the Austrian army with the participation of armored vehicles caused a state close to shock in Italy.

However, Austria can not be reproached for inconsistency. Since the middle of 2015, Vienna has clearly adhered to the policy of maximum squeezing out refugees and migrants from its own territory and preventing the arrival of new parties. This has already caused Austria's tensions with Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and other countries. There is no doubt that the new increase in the influx of "guests" from North Africa and the Middle East that is currently being observed will again be the subject of heated discussions in regional capitals and at the level of the EU leadership.

Thus, on the EU map - even if we endure Brexit brackets, the "Trump factor" and the relations between Paris and Berlin, two more dangerous conflicts for the unity of the EU are emerging more clearly: the socio-economic crisis, accompanied by the growth of political instability in South-Eastern Europe , And the "migratory collapse" threatening Italy and Central Europe. Both conflicts arose not today, but in the conditions of geopolitical instability in Europe and along its perimeter now they acquire special sharpness.

A source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Author: Peter ISKENDEROV

Tags: Europe, EU, Economy, Politics, Analytics, International relations, Italy, Austria, Border, Refugees, Migration

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