Acknowledgements. The article was prepared within the Project “Imbalances in world politics and international security”, Program of fundamental research of OGPMO RAN “Imbalances of the modern world order and Russia”.
Abstract. The article is dedicated to one of the most important problems of European and international politics – the future of the European Union, which is experiencing the most difficult period in its history. The challenges to European integration are explained by the coincidence and combination of several crises. Those are the internal systemic crisis of the entire European construction, symbolized by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and several overlapping external crises – the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis, the migration crisis, the crisis in relations with Russia around the conflict in Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic crisis. The future of European integration, scenarios and models of its evolution have always been central to both politicians and European scholars, and have acquired great importance after the referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Today’s discussion within the European Union on the future of European integration covers both the directions for further institutional development of the EU and the conceptual support for its reform in key areas – the restoration of democratic legitimacy, the definition of the differentiation parameters (flexible geometry) and the formulation of economic priorities. The analysis of the basic documents adopted by the EU leadership in 2016–2017 as a response to old problems and new challenges to the future of European integration is the focal point of this article. The dilemma of “More Europe or more fragmentation?”, which some politicians are now raising in the EU, is a false choice, because there may be “more Europe” and “more fragmentation” at the same time. This is proved by the fundamental EU documents, adopted at a turning point in the history of European integration. At times, an avant-garde of countries that are ready to go further in promoting integration than other is the necessary precondition for progress. The concept of a multi-speed or different-speed Europe is rejected by the new EU members, but whatever the name, it is the concept of flexible integration that allows avant-garde countries to promote integrationist projects. From the very beginning, European integration developed under the influence of constantly emerging crises. In order to make these crises generate new energy, but not cause paralysis, it is necessary to have a well thought strategy and an adequate political leadership that maintains close relations with European citizens, without whose support it is impossible to break Eurosceptic and nationalistic sentiments. In other words, to avoid the collapse of Europe, European politicians will have to radically rethink the mistakes of the past and answer the challenges of the present.
Keywords: European Union, European integration, crisis, migration, populism, Russia, Ukrainian conflict, NATO, U.S., models, scenarios, security strategy, defense, foreign policy
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