At the European Council meeting in Warsaw, European leaders expressed their concerns and plans for the future, as the United Kingdom‘s decisive desertion stirred uncertainty about what’s to come for the international coalition.

E.U. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a “State of the Union” speech to create higher expectations about what the union could provide to its citizens over the following years. He mentioned the immigration crisis and the installation of open internet connections in the continent. Juncker’s efforts served as a preamble to a plethora of finger-pointing among member states regarding the direction of the union’s future.

Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker gives a speech at the European Parliament on September 15. Image credit: EFE/Patrick Seeger.

“Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis,” stated Juncker in the first lines of his speech.

Europe’s rampant immigration crisis

Hungary, one of the 28 member states, has been heavily criticized for building fences to forbid war refugees from entering the country. A 10-feet high and 181-mile long fence was erected along the Hungary-Serbia border. The decision has been availed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as an attempt to stop immigrants from crossing the wall. Orbán, a right-wing conservative, has openly called migrants “poison” and a “public security risk.”

Syrian migrants
Hungarian police watch as Syrian migrants crawl under a fence to enter Hungary. Image credit: Reuters/Laszlo Balogh.

“Hungary does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future. Every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk. This is why there is no need for a common European migration policy. Whoever needs migrants can take them, but don’t force them on us, we don’t need them,” sai Orbán in a speech.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State,” and “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has called for Hungary’s suspension or expulsion from the E.U. due to its flagrant violation of human rights by the treating of its incoming refugees.

Hungarian Foreign Minister responded by saying that Asselborn could not be taken seriously, while German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested that it is not the intention of the E.U. to expel other members but to take their remarks into consideration. So far, the European Union has not expelled a single member state.

Migrants have found alternate routes to reach Western Europe, mostly through Bosnia, Croatia, and Montenegro, while the number of migrants in Hungary has dramatically decreased.

The fact that Hungary’s controversial policies have in fact been successful may lead other nations to develop similar measures. According to Asselborn, Hungary is looking forward to having border police with the task of fending off immigrants while they carry guns with live ammo and pepper spray.

Juncker highlighted that the European Union has seen 70 years of lasting peace, while there have been at least 40 active armed conflicts in the world. The head of the union emphasized the need for member states to work together in solving the problems of the continent and fighting for equality.

Open internet and copyright

Commission President Juncker stressed that Europe needs easily-accessible high-speed Internet, as people and the economy need it to thrive in today’s world markets.

The objective is to deploy 5G connection all over the European Union by 2025, which will create approximately two million jobs in the union, according to Juncker. There are also plans for providing every European city and village with free wireless internet access by 2020.

Juncker suggested a complete turnover of Europe’s copyright rules to allow artists to work as such by creating content and being paid as professionals.

YouTube and Dailymotion will be prompted to pay for the artists’ rights to prevent the illegal distribution of media content on their platform; this is mainly due to the apparent difference between legitimate and user-based entertainment services such as YouTube compared to Spotify and Netflix.

“I want journalists, publishers, and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the web,” stated Juncker in his speech.

The idea is to also force YouTube to develop its Content ID technology to emit better copyright notices and have a clearer and more reliable report system.

Although the plan has been criticized because it may harm smaller online services, the Commission has clarified that the copyright claims will only be applied when the digital service appears to have a significant amount of protected content.

All of these late measures are part of a €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe. Member states are yet to reach the investment quota to implement all of its intended objectives.

Source: European Commission