Every year is special and challenging when it comes to European integration. The highlights of 2017 were a number of high-level strategy papers and speeches such as the European Commission White Paper on the Future of Europe, the State of the Union Address by Commission President Juncker, French President Macron’s Initiative for Europe, and the Future of Europe report by President of the European Parliament Tajani. These papers and speeches all pave the way for the discussions on improving and deepening the European Union in the months towards the European elections in spring 2019. The upcoming EP elections will be different from earlier elections as the current discussions aim to offer political choices to ensure the elections are content-based.
This report, which was presented during our State of the Union 2018 Conference, assesses underlying trends, the implications of initiatives, and possible alternatives, contrary to politicians and policy makers, who are in the business of finding compromises.
One general conclusion is that the abovementioned speeches and strategy papers emphasise weaknesses and challenges at the EU level, whereas this volume clearly identifies two levels at which action is needed: the EU and national levels. The chapters can be divided into two main sets of themes: (1) the tasks and obligations of the member states, and (2) the added value of the European policies, even though member states differ in many and in major ways on what EU specific steps should be taken.
The following external authors contributed to this publication: Hussein Kassim (Professor in Politics at the University of East Anglia), Jasper Lukkezen (Editor-in-chief of Economisch Statistische Berichten - ESB), Frank Vandenbroucke (University Professor at the University of Amsterdam), and Christian Schwieter and Martin Holderied, both former research interns at the Clingendael Institute.