DIY E.U.? The future of the 27-member bloc
Divergence between economies would put further strain on the euro currency, to the point where the Eurozone would collapse
The Commission warned in the white paper that in this scenario, the E.U. could see a race to the bottom, as member states regain control over social and environmental standards as well as taxation. Divergence between economies would put further strain on the euro currency, to the point that A2 predicts the euro currency zone (Eurozone) would collapse, beginning with the exit of Greece between 2020 and 2022. Although this scenario will likely appeal to eurotepid citizens who are ambivalent about European integration and who could find a stripped-back E.U. easier to understand, national governments are highly unlikely to opt for this scenario.
Scenario 3: Those Who Want More Do More
This scenario envisages coalitions of the willing whereby groups of member states within the E.U. can co-operate much more closely, for example on defence, security or justice. Countries within the Eurozone could, for example, converge on tax and labour legislation. It will be fiercely resisted by the Greens and the Liberals, two party groupings in the E.U. parliament, who believe the division between core and periphery will hinder solutions to the migration crisis and shared social problems. It would be difficult for Greece and Germany, both members of the Eurozone, to apply the same taxes, for example. A mixture of this scenario and the fifth option is endorsed by Germany and France, the two most powerful member states: the foreign affairs ministers of both countries published a joint statement shortly after the publication of the white paper, saying that while the E.U. should maintain a uniform line on foreign policy and increase its role as an actor in international security, it should also take into account the different levels of ambition of member states. The Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, also supported this vision in a speech in February.
This model would likely be difficult to sell to Central and Eastern European member states who are afraid that it would block them from accessing E.U. fundsAlthough both Germany and France (and possibly Italy) will hold elections this year, it is likely that both countries will elect centrist governments that will hold the same beliefs. However, there is a small possibility that in France Marine Le Pen, leader of the nationalist party Front National, will be elected president; this would derail any negotiations on the future of the E.U. and possibly lead to France's exit from the Eurozone. Some smaller member states also support this scenario. The prime minister of Malta, the country that currently holds the rotating E.U. presidency, has also said that multi-speed Europe is the best option for the bloc's future. This model would likely be difficult to sell to Central and Eastern European member states who are afraid that it would block them from accessing E.U. funds. At a press conference two days after the launch of the white paper, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia said they rejected division within the E.U., because that leads directly to disintegration. On the other hand, they did call for a more significant and definite role for national parliaments in decision-making, suggesting that they could be open to a watered-down version of this model. This is the most likely pathway, perhaps in combination with either the fourth or fifth scenario to placate member states worried about being left behind...