Challenges ahead for EU as peace project

June 3, 2019

The results of the elections for the European parliament mark the beginning of a new challenging time for the European Union.

Turnout at the elections was high, which is a boost for the  legitimacy of the European Union. A new pro-EU middle ground has emerged, but the far-right Eurosceptic- and anti-migration parties have strengthened their position and will remain a major challenge for the EU as a global actor for peace.

PAX believes that an outward-looking European Union with a values-based strategy is necessary to address the challenges of social inequality, armed violence, climate change and changing international power structures. European countries and the EU have played a key role in developing the systems of international law and human rights protections, on which citizens in Europe and outside depend. Only with a values-based strategy will the EU be able to respond to the growing pressure of global powers that undermine the system of human rights and international law.

Stay positive
The main political groups need to understand and address the developments that led to the rise of anti-migration and Eurosceptic parties. They should respond to these developments with proactive, inclusive policies rather than giving in to xenophobic and inward-looking tendencies. 

As a peacebuilding and human rights organization, PAX encourages the new European Parliament to use their influence to ensure democratic oversight of European defense and security policies, including to make sure that peacebuilding and human rights concerns are at the centre of all EU budget agreements and other funding policies relating to external action.

In addition, parliament should promote better regulation and/or the prohibition of certain weapons, in particular weapons which by their nature, or through incorrect use, cannot differentiate between civilians and military personnel and ensure strict implementation of the EU Common Position on arms exports. 

The Europrean parliament should uphold and promote standards of human rights, human dignity, and solidarity, in responding to migration and to supporting refugees. Europe should be a safe haven for people seeking shelter from war and political repression. Any policies based on repression and deterrence will undermine Europe as a values-based political actor and will not be sustainable in the long-term.

Finally, EU representatives should seek for sustainable, inclusive and human-rights centered political solutions for the conflicts on its borders and beyond.

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