Not Economy but Extremism is Threatening Europe’s Future

and populist movements are exploiting people’s fear of those who are not like
us. We can see the consequences in the form of terrorism and racially motivated
” (Norwegian politician and President of the Oslo Centre for Peace
and Human Rights Kjell Magne Bondevik)

there have appeared several scholarly opinions and statements that claim that
the European Union facing serious economic and financial crisis is slowly
approaching its end of integration process which started in the aftermath of
the Second World War.

significant numbers of the EU member states are facing damaging financial
crisis which is causing serious damage to the stabilization and coherence of
the EU as a whole. While Greece as the most indebted member state is saved
bankrupt with the help of the IMF and EU financial means, other countries such
as Italy, Spain, and even Portugal are under a threat to face similar fate.
Thus, it seems that the future of the idea of European integration is at stake
over current financial crisis in several member states. As the German
Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out, Europe is threatened with its gravest
modern crisis and the EU’s future is on the line in the Greek emergency
(Traynor, 2010). Indeed, the European countries are facing one of the most
difficult economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression in 1929.
Still, it would be naïve to sideline other more important problem across
Europe, and that is extreme political groups that threaten the idea of
democratic, open, and multicultural Europe. Although financial problems are
important obstacle to the Europe’s future the popularity of the extremist
rightist parties and movements across Europe are the most significant threat to
the Europe’s integration, peace and prosperity.

Institutional Framework of Non-discrimination

European leaders decided to establish the European community in 1950s one of
the aims in their strategic intentions has been prevention of war and conflicts
among European nation states. Furthermore, important objective was to
marginalize and decrease the power and influence of the extreme political
groups through mutual dialogue and institutional integration. Thus, the idea of
European integration, among other things, can to a very significant extent
result in deterioration of nationalist parties and marginalization of extremist
political movements. That is, many Western scholars and policy makers have
believed that democratization and European integration will eventually render
nationalism. In addition, together with a number of international organizations
protecting human rights and freedoms, the parliaments and governments of the EU
member states have several times declared zero tolerance against the fascist
and extremist parties and movements. In a similar fashion, the EU Council
President Herman Van Rompuy has issued a stark warning against growing
nationalism, populism and anti-democratic forces across the EU, suggesting that
the threat to peace in Europe remains a key issue . In fact, preventing the
rise of fascist and extreme groups institutionally the European Union has
become the peace community in which there were not any war since the World War
II. Bearing in mind the fact that there are a number of wars and conflicts
across globe even today in 21st century the historic moment and importance of
the peace community in Europe are better understood.

We Should Look What is Happening on the Ground

the European Union (EU) is committed to promoting human rights, peace,
equality, and non-discrimination. The fight against racism and discrimination
lies at the heart of that commitment. In fact, the EU is founded on the
principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to all the member
states. The EU is bound by its treaties to promote human rights,
democratization and non-discrimination. Thus, the EU equality legislation
consists of a series of Directives. They ban discrimination on various grounds,
including race and gender, in fields such as employment, education and access
to goods and services. They also require member states to set up an
organisation – such as an ombudsman or other body – to promote equal treatment
and assist potential discrimination victims (Eurasia Review, 2011). What’s
more, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) was
established by the EU during 1997 as part of the EU’s aim to combat racism, xenophobia,
and anti-Semitism more effectively at a European level. Overall, there exists
all-encompassing legal and institutional framework which tends to cement the
idea of Europe defending religious, national and cultural diversity. Still, we
should look what is happening on the ground? Is the European Union indeed
genuine multicultural and democratic community or is the idea of
multiculturalism dead in Europe as some European leaders and scholars tried to

Extremist Tendencies Across Europe

the EU has adopted significant legal framework that prevents discrimination on
the basis of nation, race, sex, and religion there are serious and threatening
sings that extremism and nationalism are still significant values across the
European Union member states. Especially, due to current economic crisis across
European Union the far-right extremist parties are playing on the card of
anti-immigrant, islamophobia, and xenophobia. Naturally, migrants are the
scapegoats on which burdens of the European integration and economic
degradation due to the global economic process are loaded. Probably the
freshest example of rise and popularity of extreme movements across Europe were
deadly attacks in Norway motivated by hatred of Muslims and foreigners in
general. In addition, in recent years European Union member countries have seen
growing support for right-wing populist groups. Analysing the European
elections in 2009, Waterfield claims that “as well as picking up two seats in
Britain, anti-immigrant, extremist and previously fringe parties stepped into
the political vacuum with significant gains in the Netherlands, Austria,
Hungary, Finland, Greece and Romania” (2009). Also, the European Commissioner
for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström claims that as popularity of xenophobic
parties rises that creates a very negative environment, and sadly there are too
few leaders today who stand up for diversity and for the importance of having
open, democratic and tolerant societies where everybody is welcome.

Throwing All Immigrants and Refugees Out of the

In many of
the EU countries the populist extremist parties are playing increasingly
important role in the government decision-making. Better to say, “contrary to
assumptions in the 1980s and 1990s that the emergence of PEPs [populist
extremist parties] in Europe could be nothing more than a flash in the pan,
these parties continue to rally large and durable levels of support. They have
joined national coalition governments. They have surfaced in countries with a
tradition of extremist politics, as well as those that were previously thought
immune. They emerged before the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 and the
recent financial crisis”. Even in Sweden, one of the most democratic countries
in the world, a far-right party has won seats in parliament in general
elections in 2010 for the first time (BBC, 2010). The Sweden Democrats, or SD,
got 6 percent of the votes and will take 20 of the 349 seats, and are known for
their anti-immigrant and anti-Islam views and statements. What’s more important
is that the Sweden Democrats have their roots in a racist organisation focused
solely on throwing all immigrants and refugees out of the country. Then, Geert
Wilders and his far-right anti-Islamic immigrant party are probably the most
known European anti-immigrant party worldwide. The biggest winners in the 2009
European Parliament elections in the Netherlands were the two most outspoken
parties: Geert Wilders’ nationalist anti-EU party and the firmly pro-EU social-liberal
party D66. Furthermore, in the Dutch elections held on June 2010 the Wilders’
party more than doubled its score, rising to become the third party in the
Dutch parliament with 24 of the 150 seats. Ian Traynor argues that:

shifts have already occurred in Austria with the late Joerg Haider, with the
Danish People’s party in Copenhagen, with the Northern League in Italy or the
National Front in France, where the political mainstream has moved to the right
to accommodate the extreme right and co-opt some of their supporters”.

Scholar Debates around Europe on the Idea of Multiculturalism

recently there have emerged threatening statements from influential European
leaders and scholars that multiculturalism in Europe is unworthy and impossible
project. Although such statements and views are clearly in conflicts with the
values such as democracy, unity in diversity, tolerance and plurality that
Europe has been supporting for so long. The most known case that initiated
debates around Europe on the idea of multiculturalism was when the German
chancellor, Angela Merkel, on October 2010 speaking to a meeting of young
members of her Christian Democratic Union, claimed that Germany’s attempts to
create a multicultural society have “utterly failed”. In fact, she concluded
that, “This [multicultural] approach has failed, utterly failed,” (Weaver,
2010). Probably Merkel just told something that is in minds of a number of
European leaders. Thus, British leader David Cameron at a security conference
in Munich in February 2011 stated that the “doctrine of multiculturalism” has
failed in a Britain that encourages “different cultures to live separate lives,
apart from each other and apart from the mainstream” (Marquand, 2011). The next
European leader in row was the French leader Nicolas Sarkozy who in summer 2010
claimed that multiculturalism was dead as the French faced serious social and
economic problems with immigrants and Gypsies (Marquand, 2011). Thus, the
problem is that some European leaders accuse foreigners instead of identifying
deficiencies in integration model they adopt. Thus, referring to French
controversial integration model Chrisafis points out that:

There are Still Democratic Voices across Europe
Which Sincerely are in Favour of Multiculturalism

“Under the republican model, multiculturalism
is seen as taboo. In France, once a French citizen you leave cultural and
ethnic differences at the border and are theoretically seamlessly assimilated
into the republic. Everyone is equal before a state that is blind to colour,
race and religion. Ethnic minorities do not officially exist as it is illegal
to classify and count people by ethnicity. But the glaring gap between the
theory and the reality of discrimination is becoming a problem in France.”

there have been democratic voices across Europe which sincerely are in favour
of multicultural, multinational and democratic Europe in which ideal “unity in
diversity” will be realised in practice, and not only used as a political tool.
Claude Dilain, the Socialist mayor of Clichy, said the problems of
marginalisation in diverse French suburbs had not been addressed over the last
five years and the tinderbox of more urban rioting could go off at any time. In
addition, Wilfried Martens, a former Belgian prime minister who leads the
European People’s party which groups ruling Christian democrats in most of the
EU, made approaches to social democrat and liberal leaders with the aim of
forging a joint anti-extremist position. Following the horrific terrorist
attacks in Norway in July 2011 carried out by Anders Breivik, the leader of
Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel, said that,
“In a society where anti-Islam and the discrimination of others has become
acceptable again, and in which the middle class applauds the likes of
(controversial author) Thilo Sarrazin, there will naturally be lunatics on the
fringes of society who feel legitimized in taking stronger action” (Spiegel,
2011). Further, Lagendijk points out that, the large majority of European
citizens still do not vote for these [extremist] parties (2010). As Mile Lasic
points out, “we should ask ourselves whether possible answers are hidden
perhaps in the complex EU’s political, cultural, and economic workshop in the
form of a new political culture regarding the questions about prematurely
proclaimed death of multiculturalism?” (2011). Can indeed the EU provide a
model for coexistence of different cultures, nations, religions, etc.?

Economic Crisis is a Test for a European
Political Leadership and their Citizenship

As the
European countries recently have faced serious economic and financial crisis
most of the scholarly debates are focused on solving the Eurozone problems as
the most triggering challenges for the future of supranational and
multicultural Europe. However, in this paper my central argument is that it is
more important for the Europeans to manage cultural, national, and religious
pluralism than to focus all their energy on solving financial crisis. In other
words, if the EU disintegrate and wither away it will be because of dynamism
and popularity of extreme rightist political parties and radical anti-immigrant
movements among the European citizens rather than deep financial crisis. What’s
more important, while economic and financial crisis may result in negative
economic and material repercussions for the European nations extremist
movements across Europe can bring about long-term consequences for whole
humankind as would such a situation confirm the theory of the Clash of
Civilizations proposed by political scientist Samuel Huntington, that people’s
cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the
post- Cold War era. So, today’s economic crisis is a test for a European
leaders and their citizenship as well, and they should all together produce
models of integrating foreigners into European societies. Otherwise, the idea
of multiculturalism as a universal ideal could come under serious threat in
Europe resulting in a rise of hatred and mistrust between nations and religions
worldwide. We should all work hard in order to spread the value and
significance of multiculturalism as a win-win game for all.

Talking About Medication Costs Yields Rewards

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