Rising popularity of extremists, radical at national level threatens EU integrity - Barroso

Rising popularity of extremists, radical at national level threatens EU integrity - Barroso
16 September 2016

Moderate political forces in Europe need to re-claim leadership of their countries, at the national level, in order for the EU to maintain its integrity and develop further, former European Commission President (2004-2014), Jose Manuel Barroso, said at the 13th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting.

“The political initiative in many European states has been seized by extremists, populists, right-wing radicals, nationalists, and in some cases left-wing populism. It seems to me that the rise of these sentiments is a result of the centre left being unable to find a solution to settle economic and social problems, and the fears caused by migration, whilst the centre right struggled to demonstrate a solution to the issue of identity, and because of this they have lost ground to the hard right and harder left - causing increasing polarisation of the political debate within our nation states,” he said.

Barroso suggested that Brexit, far from being a vote against Europe in itself (he made the point that most Britons do not understand Brussels, or what Brussels really does) was a vote against having too many foreigners, and a vote in favour of idea of isolation. He said, “If you have a political party, in Britain the Conservative Party, telling lies about the European Union for 30 years, you cannot be surprised when the people you have been lying to vote against the EU.”

The former president of the European Commission went on to say that the current situation in France is very important to the future of the EU.  “France now is a key issue, it is a country that is critically important to Europe. Currently, everyone is talking about Germany - certainly, I respect Angela Merkel as a prominent leader - but France is central to Europe and very important because it straddles both North and South. Some commentators are talking about Northern and Southern Europe, but France is both a Northern and Southern country. But France has no confidence in itself, and this lack of confidence casts a shadow on all European institutions. Regaining confidence and demonstrating leadership at the national level is necessary for Europe to regain confidence at the group level,” he said.

Back to news list
Jared Cohen
Jared Cohen
Founder and CEO, Jigsaw, 15th YES Annual Meeting, 2018
«In the process of helping Ukraine we’re going to learn about the most recent tactics that are deployed by outside actors to disrupt the democratic process.»