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This paper will discuss some challenges the European Union might encounter going forward, in sustaining democratic peace and international law. It will also highlight some of the events that have led to the development of these challenges. The concepts discussed in this paper are important components to the prosperity of the European Union.
This essay will focus on three key areas:
1. Why sustaining democratic peace will be important for Europe going forward.
2. How obtaining and respecting international law will benefit Europe’s economy and prosperity. 3. Why these concepts will pose a challenge for Europe in the coming years.
Europe’s Political Development
To understand some challenges Europe might face going forward, we first must have a clear understanding of their past and present. I believe a good place to begin unraveling through Europe’s political development to be the 2008 financial crisis. Its effects on economic inequality and politics, are still with them today. This market crash spurred a heavy loss in confidence and led the European Union to where they are now, confronted with rapid migration flows, terrorist attacks, lingering economic problems, and disagreements on proper powers of the European Union. These challenges have led to the exit of Britain and the rise of populism throughout Europe.1 Europe’s decisions from here on out, regarding their international cooperation, will determine whether they will prosper or fall over the next decade and further.
Maintaining Democratic Peace in Europe
Brexit has left the European Union with an abundance of uncertainty. Will the remaining countries in the European Union rally together and push for more integration? Or will they look at Britain and say, “let’s get out too?” While it is not known for sure what other challenges could arise for Europe in the future, Europe will certainly face challenges with maintaining democratic peace with Britain and surrounding nations. The European Union must work closely with London,2 to regulate trade, tariffs, agriculture, immigration, and numerous other issues. These regulations will play a large factor in the success of Europe’s democratic peace with Britain. Another determinant of Europe’s democratic peace will be minimizing the effects of populists.3 Europe can do this by returning to the roots of democracy. Which is, listening to the voice of the public. A relapse in democracy is what began all the challenges that Europe has endured, and will continue to face going forward. Europe will lose democratic peace if they lack a solid inner democracy.
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Brexit issues aside, Europe is still facing conflicts with Russia, Africa, and the Middle East. Conflicts involving Europe’s borders could lead to the spiraling of other issues. It could increase migration flow, leading to the need for more jobs, and posing threat to national security. Refugee and migration flows were a large factor of the Brexit decision, and continue to be a topic of concern for European citizens. In turn, conflicts with bordering nations could leave the European Union more divided than before. Democratic peace is a key player in ending this snowball effect that could occur.
Not only is democratic peace a solution to Europe’s internal democracy and national identity, it is a means of economic relief. Trade between these peripheries, is paramount for building up Europe’s economy. Trade tensions will not only slow down the European economy, but the entirety of the global economy. Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Center in Geneva, explains that two-thirds of European growth come from outside the European Union.4 Establishing a firm democratic peace with States abroad, will help form a resilience of the European economy.
International Law as a Means of Prosperity
To further strengthen the European Union, it is important to establish a firm international law with surrounding nations. Upholding the legal responsibilities of States through international law, will lead to peace and prosperity in the future. By becoming more interconnected, the world could attain a “perpetual peace.”5 A challenge that may arise for Europe in the future, relating to international law, is rising tensions. The previous global landscape that came about after World War II, of a “rules-based” international order, is changing.6 We see this with today’s tensions between the Middle East, Africa, and Russia. These conflicts will make international cooperation difficult. However, cooperation is key to building a resilient Europe.
Globally, nations are even experiencing rising tensions within their borders due to disagreements of proper roles of government, and the rights of individuals. As mentioned earlier, these spews between citizens and governments, have led to the rise of populist politics. For this reason, it makes it difficult for Europe to govern in ways that gain support of the public.7 For Europe to thrive over the coming years, it will be vital to obtain and respect international laws that the people of Europe will support.
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While the dynamics of international law is shifting, it is still the most ideal way to settle disputes peacefully and would contribute greatly to the welfare of Europe. Europe is suffering from uneven capitalization, migration, separatist movements, and economic output. If these struggles continue to worsen, it leaves conflict from other major powers, such as China and Russia, to move in.8
In closing, conflicts both within and between countries will heighten because the global landscape is changing. America’s role in this landscape is unknown, Russia is attempting to restore power through militarism, and Europe is battling its own economic and security challenges. Creating a cohesion between countries will undoubtedly be a challenge, but would be a resolution to Europe’s setbacks. While interdependence through democratic peace and international law may not be a guaranteed prevention of conflict, it is a barrier to these conflicts. It will also immensely improve Europe’s economic conditions and internal democracy.
1. Hanspeter Kriesi, Takis S. Pappas, European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession (Colchester: ECPR Press, 2015).
2. Global Trends, “Paradox of Progress,” Europe, accessed September 1, 2019, https://www.dni.gov/index.php/the- next-five-years/europe.
4. Vakulina, Sasha, “Trade Tensions Slow down the Global Economy,” Euronews, June 13, 2019. https://www.euronews.com/2019/06/12/uncertainty-and-trade-tensions-slowdown-the-global- economy.
5. “International conflict,” The Ohio State University, accessed September 2, 2019, https://news.osu.edu/democratic-peace-may-not-prevent-international-conflict/.
6. Global Trends, “Paradox of Progress,” The Future Summarized, accessed September 2, 2019, https://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends/the-future-summarized.
7. Global Trends, “Paradox of Progress,” Near Future: Tensions are Rising, accessed September 3, 2019, https://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends/near-future.
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