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The State of the Union

18 Dec 2018 - 13:11
Source: EU2018BG-flickr

This report is part of our upcoming Strategic Monitor 2018 - 2019, which monitors the international system and assesses risks to Dutch national security. Over the coming weeks additional research papers associated with this Strategic Monitor will be released. A synthesis report (in Dutch) will be published in January 2019.

In this report author Jan Rood addresses the challenges facing the EU and looks from various perspectives at the forces putting pressure on the cohesion and responsiveness of the EU. He continues with a discussion of the implications of this for the functioning of the EU as a political and administrative system. Can the EU respond appropriately to these forces? What are the crucial requirements for this and are they in place in the Union? The report ends with a discussion of what this means for the position of the Netherlands.

In the years ahead, the European Union is expected to remain under constant pressure due to the continuing crisis of trust within the member states and the lack of cohesion between them. This will have a major impact on the European Union as a political system. This observation is significant given that the next five years may prove decisive for the EU’s continued existence as a functioning system of cooperation. For the Netherlands major interests are at stake, both economically and politically. The European Union has always been of vital economic interest for the Netherlands. But in a world composed of shifting tectonic plates European cooperation in the broad area of security has become ever more important. Against this backdrop fundamental questions arise with regard to Dutch foreign and security policy. First, in response to the departure of the UK – always seen as a natural partner of the Netherlands – the question arises of what this means for the positioning of the Netherlands within the European coalition landscape. Second, there is the question of whether the Netherlands should (further) relinquish its traditional Atlantic orientation in favour of a more continental European focus with regard to its security.

How will the EU develop in the years ahead? Will the Union find the strength it needs to meet a number of internal and external challenges? What, in short, is the state of the Union in 2018? And what can be expected in the next five years? After Juncker’s warning in 2016, are there now grounds for more optimism or does the Union remain under heavy pressure?