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)

A. Impose financial sanctions;
B. Follow the article-7-procedure: deny access to the internal market and take away the right to vote in EU governing bodies;
C. Instantly overrule the current government and recover a stable, peaceful and moral country;
D. Move the power to the people by supporting protesters against Orbán.

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.

A. A No Deal when May can’t find a solution both parties are satisfied with;
B. A Hard Deal with the least obligations from the UK to the EU, like Norway and Switzerland;
C. A Soft Deal in which the UK stays part of the ‘customs union’ with a free trade area and a common external tariff;
D. A No Brexit when the British parliament completely withdraws its plans and declines the referendums outcome.

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).

A. Support the plans for military intervention raised by the United States;
B. Cease any action until a common opinion is debated and a joint position is chosen by the EU;
C. Approach Gauidó to request the organisation of democratic elections;
D. Stand behind Maduro and his policies to regain control, welfare and peace.

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.

A. Keep defending international institutions as we do today, as stated by prime ministers Theresa May and Mark Rutte;
B. Charge the military officials responsible for such actions;
C. Impose financial sanctions to Russia;
D. Fight back with more advanced cyber techniques.

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.