We need (and already have) a multi-speed EU, in which countries move forward or backwards as required by their circumstances and preferences. We also urgently need clear and enforceable methods for dealing with countries which backslide on democracy. Just off the top of my head we had to deal with Austria when Haider was making inroads in the government, Netherlands with Wilders, Italy with Berlusconi, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and now Poland. This is getting very tricky and, unless we make it clear that if a member backslides on fundamental democratic principles, it gets suspended, loses financially and, above all, is liable to suspension and eventual expulsion.I cannot but side with Thatcher’s worry about the EU turning undemocratic – she was worrying about communists, we need to worry about extreme left, right, fascist and nazi movements. I don’t want to live in an authoritarian EU, that’s why we need to build urgently, firewalls to defend democracy – the liberal sort, not the Orbán-Kaczyński type.
By building on shared values, the EU overcame historical conflicts and created a space of peace, progress, and freedom. But the rise of authoritarianism in Eastern Europe, together with resurgent nationalism throughout the continent, is testing those values – and thus the future of European integration.