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Europe’s North-South divide has only negative consequences

07 February 2014 / 22:02:23  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

What will happen if the European North decides to free itself of the South? This question, unthinkable until a few years ago, was the subject of a high-level discussion within the conference "Dare Democracy" which was held in Athens for a second day in a row.

"This divide would be a huge mistake. It reminds me of the Berlin Wall that was dividing the continent into East and West for decades. Europe’s North-South divide would create new commanding elites whereas the core of the European idea is the exchange of views," said Member of European Parliament from Bulgaria Nadezhda Neynsky.

She added that Europeans should look for things that connect them and should also establish best practices for solving problems. "The Balkans is an example of changes after joining the European Union. The right choice for it is integration, but through specific and forward-looking policies. Young people need to be confident that the future will be better."

Nadezhda Neynsky and Dora Bakogiannis, who was also a Foreign Minister in the past, shared the opinion that Europe is lacking leadership today. "The lack of political will and the fear are about to paralyze the European Union. The generations that are governing it were born after the war, they take peace for granted. This is a serious problem because it prevents us all from making the necessary step forward. Today, the biggest issue is the protection of the European idea from populism," stated Dora Bakogiannis.

Former Minister Thasos Yiannitsis, in turn, suggested that the blame for the present state of the European Union is equally divided between the North and the South. "Of course, Greece is highly responsible for ending up in that position. On the other hand, the South has no responsibility for the invisible crisis in the European banking system." He was not very optimistic about the future of the European Union. "This requires vision, sense of responsibility and careful action which I do not see for the time being."

According to Professor Emeritus and Chairman of the Administrative Tribunal of the Council of Europe Christos Rozakis, the European Union must return to its fundamental values. "It was created after a devastating war and under pressure from the major powers of the time, namely the United States and the Soviet Union. It was not the economy but the union that was enshrined in the European idea, but over time, it has been lost in favour of inter-state cooperation."

Rozakis said that "there is no North and South, there are stronger and weaker countries. It was wrong to introduce policies such as the common currency without close monitoring of the implementation of the required preparation." According to him, stricter control over the member states on the part of the European authorities will be necessary in the future as well as federalization, which is undoubtedly related to the loss of part of state sovereignty.

"The only solution to the current crisis is to return to the supernational character of the Union. The banking union which is under consideration at present is a step in this direction."

According to Nadezhda Neynsky who referred to her conversation with a Dutch politician, "nobody in the northern part of the European Union talks about dividing, this discussion is taking place only in the southern states." She said that this divide is somewhat humiliating for the region. "Ultimately, it depends on us to properly assess our geographical location and benefit from it, which can be a huge advantage, through participation in energy networks, for example. This stimulates the economy and will bring better opportunities for the citizens," she said in conclusion.

Tags: PoliticsEuropean UnionDivideNorth and SouthNadezhda NeynskyDora Bakogiannis
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