Europe is changing. Hungary is turning into a corrupt dictatorship, while the UK is struggling to get out of the EU. A crisis in Venezuela and hack attacks from Russia also demand European reaction. These conflicts are testing the range of the EU: will it bend, or will it break? Let’s see what the participants of Amsterdam 2019 think. Article by Joris Dietz (NL)
How should the EU approach the slow abolishment of the rule of law in Hungary?
Opinions about the Hungarian crisis are neatly divided. Almost half of the respondents thought immediate action is needed, seeing it’s a quick solution and the only way to erase Orbáns actions and restore peace, while also securing citizen’s safety. A counterargument stated that “overruling a government is not the EUs task, they represent peace and do not have the power to disrupt a government.” The second half of participants believes a more diplomatic approach is more suitable: “it is the only fair sanction as the other Member states are collaborating in the EU and overstepping because of Hungary’s misbehaviour.” Also, allowing such behaviour might trigger Eurosceptics and worsen situations in other countries. One participant noted that imposing financial sanctions can force Orbán into changing his ways when he can’t fund his corrupt policies.
What is the best Brexit deal for the European Union?
Just one of the participants thought a No Deal would be a good outcome of the Brexit. Many voted for cancelling Brexit at all, seeing that hardened travelling and trade would be disadvantageous for too many parties. Reasons for having a Soft Deal are ensuring benefits for both parties while also protecting the EUs reputation in front of other Member States, as well as the fact that the UK will suffer and ‘learn its lesson’ anyways, no matter the outcome or deal. A few participants thought a Hard Deal is the only suitable option, saying the EU needs to set an example and UK needs to face the consequences of their choice (referendum outcome).
What action should the EU Member States take in the Venezuelan crisis?
A unique situation occurred when no one voted for supporting an American military intervention – one respondent reasoned military action would only lead to an escalation, and one comment boldly stated “Trump should just quit”. A fraction of the participants believed supporting Maduro would be wisest: “it’s the most stable situation, otherwise we will get a Middle-East-like situation.” The majority voted for the safest and most neutral position, aiming for a common European statement. Respondents said it is the most democratic option, and that the EU has power to move against Maduro, but only if Member States agree on the issue and work together.
How should the European Union handle the disruptive cyberattacks Russia is systematically undertaking?
Respondents were much divided over this topic. More than a quarter believed preserving the current situation is “the most peaceful and mature solution” and “a wise choice as the nuclear treaty has just been disbanded.” Fighting back would not only have unforeseen negative consequences, but also be a bad example to the rest of the world. A few respondents countered that with the opinion that Russia’s actions are not acceptable and not tolerated, and thus have consequences. Backfiring with advanced hacking attack would also create jobs for youngsters in the IT sector, one respondent suggested.