The Division of Europe

The previous decade was marked by a twofold division within the EU. One was between the northern and southern states, the other between those in the West and those in the East.

During the euro crisis, it was the North-South contrast that caused considerable conflict. The financial problems of the Greek state in particular, but also of Spain, Portugal and Italy, led to the various European aid programmes that were set up within the EU in the years following the economic crisis. The states in the northern half of the Union had their budgets under better control and the various packages and their implications were sometimes bitterly disputed.

The East-West divide became significant primarily during the refugee crisis from 2015 onwards. The southern states were usually the first to be affected by the migration movements, while the states in Eastern Europe refused to accept large numbers of refugees. Since there were no uniform regulations for this within the EU (or the Schengen area), this also led to widespread conflicts. Germany in particular insisted (only after the situation had become uncontrollable in the meantime) on a uniform EU regulation. However, there is also dissent on more fundamental questions of policy, as the European Union’s cases against Poland and Hungary show, for example.

How will these divisions play out at the EU level this decade?

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