The EU has undergone numerous crises in the past seven years since the global recession hit in 2008. The disastrous endeavour that is the Eurozone, has proven to undermine the whole European project and threatened its very existence. The failure to deal with these problems caused by the debt crisis has further fuelled dissatisfaction with the Brussels elites. Even now in 2015 the EU bears the problems of an uncertain and unpredictable future. The rise of the far-right, economic uncertainty and deep spending cuts will result in years of unpopularity to come.

The EU has reached a point of integration that thirty years ago no one could have thought feasible. The majority of European nations are now EU members. Twenty-eight have joined and 19 of these are Eurozone members. The EU has evolved from a series of treaty negotiations and pacts first started in 1952 when the European coal and steel community was conceived. The six states who formed this initial grouping later founded the European Economic Community in 1957 under the guise of the treaty of Rome. Further enlargements followed in 1973, 1986 and 2004. By 1993 the Maastricht Treaty redefined this community as the European Union.

By 2007 the vast majority of European states were EU members. It rode upon a wave of popularity amongst the people until the world economic crash in 2008 interrupted its unwavering success. The rise of UKIP in Britain and the Front National in France has given euroscepticism a fresh impetus and forced people across Europe to rethink our ties with Brussels. But the EU has done itself no favours with the electorate due to its much maligned democratic deficit. For example, the EU elections in 2014 only achieved a paltry 42 per cent turnout. The thick layers of bureaucracy are tangled up in institutions in Strasbourg and Brussels and the European Commission embodies this.

As one of the most important institutions of the EU the Commission proposes legislation and implements directives. In recent years the actions of the EC the ECB and the IMF otherwise known as the ‘troika’ have vastly increased the levels of unpopularity towards the EU. This is due to their austerity measures imposed on Eurozone members in debt such as Ireland, Cyprus and most notably, Greece. This has subsequently led to the election of an anti-austerity party in Greece. It is not therefore always the hot topic of immigration and national pride that could see the EU unravel, but rather the lack of democracy visible within its institutions.

Instead of imposing treaties on EU nations to carry on building up Brussels’ powers, the EU must reform itself to survive. Also the policies of the troika and its damaging neo-liberal agenda severely impact on the EU’s legitimacy. The means by which the bailout packages are agreed must be fairer and impact less on the poorest in society. The way in which the EU is run and the democratic values it claims to purport must be radically changed and reformed.

There is a good argument for the continued existence of the European Union in some form. But not as it currently is. The next few years are vital to whether it grows or retreats. Despite Iceland recently revoking their application to join, many other states still wish to do so. However the threat of the United Kingdom leaving still appears to be very real. This of course depends on the results of the UK General Election. Other nations are seeing an increase in euroscepticism such as Hungary. On the other hand a lot of people rely on the EU to succeed in order to improve poorer economies. The European Union does have a future, but it is down to itself to take the right steps to ensure its survival.

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