Ursula von der Leyen issued warning over future EU ‘civil war’
EU's attempt to 'create identity' analysed by experts
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The European Union’s future could resemble the conflict-torn Roman Empire following Angela Merkel’s departure, an academic has warned. The German chancellor’s imminent step down will bring an end to 15 years of Germany being seen as a “paragon of political stability”, according to Ronald G. Asch in The Spectator. There are warnings that Germany will “in all likelihood enjoy very little real leadership”, and an imminent “weak government”.
This may initially seem advantageous to German partners and rivals within the EU, notably France and Germany.
Yet, according to Prof Asch, a Germany without clear direction and “without sight of a solid mooring”, could have fatal consequences for the rest of the bloc.
Prof Asch warns Germany could “drag the rest of Europe with her”.
David Engels is chair of Roman History at the Free University of Brussels and author of a number of books including “The Decline: The Crisis of the European Union and the Fall of the Roman Republic”.
Many factors, he argued, demonstrate parallels drawn between the fall of the Roman Republic and Europe in the 21st century.
The parallels are said to be “so obvious, so massive, and that has been the case for decades”.
He warned in a 2017 interview: “In 20 to 30 years Europe will have become an authoritarian or imperial state, after a phase resembling civil war and decay.
“I expect a civil war, which will force a fundamental social and political reformation in Europe, whether we like it or not, following the example of the decaying Roman Republic in the first century BC.”
The threat of a civil war will send shockwaves across Europe, and a stark warning to Ursula von der Leyen.
Since the publication of his book which deals with the similarities between the Roman Empire and the EU, he has warned of Europe teetering towards authoritarianism.
He warned of a multitude of factors that ultimately resulted in the fall of Julius Caesar’s empire can be seen today – notably individualism, fundamentalism, the decline of traditional culture and rampant crime.
He also noted the divide between the elite – modern-day Roman Senators – and populist movements that demanded the electorate are given a voice.
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Mr Engels cited the rise to prominence of Marine LePen, Dutch right-winger Geert Wilders – once labelled the “Dutch Donald Trump”, and more recently Italian far-right party Brothers of Italy, as a result of populism.
While civil war is unavoidable, Mr Engels argued, it is unlikely to take the form of conventional warfare.
Instead, he said, it will manifest itself in ways such as the “no-go” areas in some Swedish cities such as Malmo, or the Brussels suburbs such as Molenbeek where Salah Abdeslam evaded police for months after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.
Amid the gloomy picture painted of the not-too-distant future, others have argued a post-Brexit Europe will not fail.
Speaking to PwC, economist Daron Acemoglu argued Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and parts of Germany have a “very mobilised civil society”, with “institutions that keep the state constantly in a state of check and balances on political power”.
The EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for “over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.
It has given 500 million people the freedom to live, study and work anywhere within the bloc.
The GDP of the EU also account for almost a quarter of the world’s total, through one of the world’s biggest single markets.
Meanwhile, the EU has been warned the rise of the far-right across the continent could have catastrophic consequences.
Foreign affairs expert Gideon Rachman said in the Financial Times earlier this year that it is “conceivable the EU would break up” under the impact of Ms Le Pen winning next year’s French presidential elections.
The Sweden Democrats also seem “close to a share of power”, he wrote.
Should a far-right party gain power in a country with the power of France, the “shock would be felt across the continent”, he said.
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