Big Challenges Ahead for the EU
Last week, the European Parliament approved the new European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker, which constitutes the new executive branch of the European Union. This vote closed a leadership selection process that included hours-long hearings of all the candidates in front of the European Parliament during which the major political struggles that will dominate the EU's agenda for the next five years clearly surfaced.
The number one topic is the challenge of how to revive growth, reduce unemployment and bring public debt levels in a number of member states down to sustainable levels. During the Parliamentary hearings, a key dividing line became apparent: There is a deep rift between those who think that reviving growth will require more public investment and more fiscal leeway in the short term and those who believe that the EU is on the right track pushing for budgetary austerity and structural reforms simultaneously.
Dr. Daniela Schwarzer is senior director of research and the director of the Europe Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).