Judy Dempsey writes: The terrorist attacks that have killed at least 31 people in Brussels and injured some 270 others on March 22 have changed Europe’s perception about itself. Until now, despite so many calculated murders of many innocent civilians in Madrid, London, Copenhagen, and Paris— among other cities across Europe—since 2004, European leaders have adopted ad hoc measures to counter this new challenge. What makes Brussels different is that there’s now an acceptance by EU leaders that these attacks will continue.
All the measures taken so far have fallen way short of confronting the threat. European leaders didn’t want to admit that the peace that reigned across Europe since the end of World War II had been shattered. As Elmar Brok, the German chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee said after the Brussels bombings, “This is a new form of war that Europe has to deal with.”
This is the new and uncomfortable reality that European leaders now have to accept and respond to. It is a reality that is not going to go away as long as the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and their battalions of supporters inside and outside Europe continue their mission to attack everything that Europe stands for. It is Europe’s liberal values and open society that the perpetrators of these attacks, many of them born in Europe, are taking advantage of. Those values are now at stake. [Continue reading…]
Reuters reports: Even before the shock of last week’s deadly Brussels bombings, gallows humor had taken hold in the square kilometer around Schuman Roundabout, the heart of the city’s European district.
It’s been a miserable start to the year for the European Union with the unresolved migration crisis poisoning relations among member governments, negotiations to avert a British exit getting trickier, Greece’s debt crisis dragging on, and Islamist militant attacks exposing serial cross-border security lapses.
A succession of emergency summits of the 28 national leaders has fueled an atmosphere of permanent crisis. And political weather forecasters say worse storms may be on the way.
Among staff working for EU institutions, long used to being unloved scapegoats for national politicians, the mood oscillates between despond and defiance.
“The European Union is like the orchestra that played on the Titanic,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in January, urging EU officials to redirect their focus to promoting growth and employment instead of “this mistaken bureaucratic approach”.
Officials have been strictly instructed not to do or say anything that may affect Britain’s knife-edge June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the bloc. [Continue reading…]