The major talking political event last week impacts European, Irish and British politics. The EU Leaders’ Summit focused mainly on immigration as the issue has steadily continued to raise tensions across the European Union over the last 18 months.
Immigration is an issue that has threatened Angela Merkel’s government in recent weeks. The mood in the EU has become more anti-immigration over the last year with governments in Italy and Austria emerging on the backs of promoting a tougher stance in their electoral campaigns.
The EU27 did reach a deal after nine hours of negotiations on Friday. This will lead to the creation of staging posts in countries just outside the European Union (these are yet to be agreed) and the even distribution of the refugees which are sifted from economic migrants at these centers (crucially this is opt-in so Hungary etc will almost certainly not participate).
This doesn’t seem like a very comprehensive or sustainable solution. However, I didn’t realise that migration is massively down from 2015. In May it was 96% lower than in October 2018 (the peal of the crisis).
What I take form this is that there has been a difference of about 2.5 years from the peak of the crisis and the (hopefully) peak of the political reaction to it. If the European union can weather the political storm is it currently experiencing, then things should become a lot smoother in the mid to long term.
The question is though will the above measure be enough to satisfy the broader EU electorate. A crucial acid test for this will be the Swedish general election in September. Sweden has seen it’s fair share of political backlash recently and the far-right Swedish Democrats have climbed steadily in the polls.
While it looks unlikely they will enter government there (despite winning one recent poll and regularly coming second), a shock win would really put pressure on the established parties to renege on their vow not to enter government with them.
The UK were given an insight into were Brexit now stands on the list of EU priorities. By most accounts, Theresa May was given about 10 minutes for an update. The EU 27 seem to have lost a lot o patience and if there isn’t a clear position and offer by the UK Government by the end of July I can see the EU taking the initiative and giving the UK a take it or leave it ultimatum.
Finally, If things go badly at Chequers next week, it may not even be Theresa May who receives this offer…