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EU More Divided After Election, Difference on China May Intensify update

2019-05-29 22:54
It was a record turnout for the European Parliament elections, at 51 percent. For Europeans it's not just about Europe: the parliament's decisions will affect the whole world. Some commentators are saying it's the most intense fight between pro-European Union factions and skeptics. The results of the election suggest a complicated and diverse future for the European Union because, as Richard Youngs, Senior Fellow of Carnegie Europe said, Europe is still very divided. Which is why assigning leadership roles will likely be a long and tricky process, where the parties will try to form new alliances. And this is not just about Europe. Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, Executive Director of the Project on Europe, Harvard Kennedy School said, "[T]his is about the future of the power, the role of Europe in the world, in relation to China, and in relation to the United States." The new parliament will continue to grapple with Europe’s immigration and economic challenges and, Ashbrook says, they’ll also try to have a say in trade deals with the United States. "We're only at the beginning of a new trade negotiation between the European Union and the United States," she said. "The parliament has tried to muscle into that negotiation." As for how to deal with the "China challenge," the European Union has already begun intense internal discussions. Their report "EU-China: A Strategic Outlook," published earlier this year, defined China as an "economic competitor" and a "systemic rival." It is expected that the heat will rise in the new parliament with continuing discussions on the topic. "The 5G issue will become a very, very high profile discussion in the parliament. It's one where these kind of regulatory issues—is one where the parliament has a really important role," said Youngs. "There are significant differences between European governments on other issues, for example the Belt and Road Initiative, and in a way these elections will probably intensify those differences." Though the differences are there, this new parliament stands a chance at getting through them by the very nature of their existence—unity.