Reforming the EU: An Unlikelihood Akin to Influencing Climate Change


The civic-populist right in Europe never really became an integral part of the EU, which should not be held against it; however, it´s to criticise that it was also never able to form an effective united front against it. Despite some essential points of agreement, the differences have almost always prevailed with time – differences which could not even be put aside for a time for the sake of a joint working platform between right-wing parties. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is currently attempting to forge an alliance, but, once again, it is clear that there is a lack of a common vision of Europe between the civic-populist right within the EU. The German Alternative for Germany (AFD) has been left out of the proposed new project.



The Nature of Viktor Orban's Civic Right Alliance


After the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz, which Orban leads, was effectively forced out of the European People’s Party (EPP) within the European Parliament, Orban began the process of forging a new alliance. To this end, Orban met with Morawiecki from the Polish Law & Justice Party (PiS) and Salvini from the Italian Lega. In early July, 16 right-wing conservative parties published a collective manifesto describing the ultimate goal of reforming the EU. Recognising Brussels‘ authorities as a tool of radical forces and identifying the danger of losing national self-determination, this new political collective’s warning of a European superstate is not far from becoming a reality when one takes even a superficial look at the ongoing situation. One can hardly dispute that patriotic parties should dedicate themselves to the task of stopping a loss of tradition and culture. However, it may require some discussion as to whether or not it is realistic a concept to revert the EU back to a community of free peoples, as the aforementioned manifesto outlines. The Brexit Party, which – prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – once belonged to the populist groups that have now been triggered to unite, saw things differently.


A Crossroad for the German Alternative for Germany (AfD)


What is especially interesting about this renewed attempt to unite the civic-populist right within the EU is the lack of the German AfD’s presence in this proposed alliance. The followers around Björn Höcke succeeded in anchoring an exit from the European Union in the AfD's election manifesto. However, the new right-wing populist alliance does not totally desire to see its members take full leave of the EU. In this respect, one naturally notices that the central architects of this envisaged right-wing conservative formation are the governments of the two main net beneficiary countries, which are Poland and Hungary. An exit of Germany from the EU, the main net contributor, would be much more than a severe blow to Brussels' transfer capacity. However, if that is indeed the reason for not taking the AfD on board, little credit can be given to the alleged reformist zeal of Orban, Morawiecki and its compatriots since the Brussels financial redistribution mechanism – which has degenerated into a transfer union – is a cardinal problem of reducing nation-states' sovereignty through the establishing and maintaining of relationships which risk resulting in long-term dependency. Moreover, it will be interesting to see how the Meuthen clique will take this as an opportunity for the AfD party leadership to cancel its own election programme, passed by the grassroots members for the sole reason of becoming a part of the game. In this way, party leadership would once again move towards the political centre, which itself, in turn, has long since begun to shift to the political left.



The Lack of a Common Vision for Europe


The question remains as to what extent it is realistic to change the direction of the EU, especially within the necessary time frame. After all, the critics of the European Commission's effective dictatorship no longer have the influential Brexit Party on their side. Currently, the Eurosceptic parliamentary groups, the European Conservatives & Reformists (ECR) and Identity & Democracy (ID) – including the AFD – would hold onto 134 seats. Even as the third-strongest parliamentary group in the European Parliament, they would have no effective power to shape the future of Europe against Brussels‘ bloc parties. However, the main problem of civic-populist right European parties is the lack of a shared alternative vision of Europe, which is why they trudge along with day-to-day political events for which unity is not found in every individual case. For example, Eastern European right-wing conservatives oppose migration, while the Greeks and Italians demand more distribution. Some parties have a particular affinity for cooperation with Russia, but the Poles reject this outright. Last but not least, it is not clear whether Orban would have made his push for unification if it had been possible for him to remain tolerably within the EPP. After all, his Hungarian Family Minister recently stated that for Fidesz, the German Democratic Union (CDU) of Angela Merkel would still remain the German contact.


A Future of pre-Maastricht Perspective


Due to the fact that existing governments that can be classified as centre-right, and given the Visegrad states` intensity of conflicts with the European Commission, it would have to be the task of a truly united right-wing group within the EU to increase the pressure for reform by creating suitable parallel structures of an economically co-operative, not supranational nature, for potential future exit candidates from the EU must not be forced to perpetuate an unsatisfactory status quo due to fiscal constraints and lack of alternatives. Instead of claiming to be in a position to reform the cumbersome technocratic EU juggernaut, it would have sounded more dynamic, as well as more sympathetic, to announce, for example, a retreat of some states to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as a platform for a gradual development towards a national self-determined economic community. So to speak, a step forward into a "pre-Maastricht European future" ante 1993, for at that time, a different course of reform would have had to be set internally for the last time.


Sascha A. Roßmüller



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