Brussels, March 22, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Marina Spyropoulou
Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels will severely affect the EU’s fabric, according to an initial analysis by the intelligence firm Stratfor.
The horrendous, deadly attacks took place as the EU is scrambling to solve the migrant crisis and as nationalist forces are challenging key principles of the Continental bloc, including the Schengen Agreement.
“The atmosphere of fear and suspicion that is sure to follow will only worsen these social, political and economic crises,” Stratfor’s experts predict.
Outlining the impact, the firm expects first of all a fresh round of debate over EU border controls to begin, as well as the resumption of talks on how best to combat terrorism abroad in troubled nations such as Libya and Syria.
“Europeans will become more willing to contribute to the coalition against the Islamic State, possibly with more weapons and training for the Iraqi military and Kurdish militants, increased deployment of combat aircraft and participation in NATO surveillance missions in Turkey,” according to the analysis.
Another casualty could be the recent, tenuous agreement between Turkey and the European Union to limit the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe. Renewed awareness of the threat of terrorism among EU member states will bring focus on the bloc’s external borders, possibly justifying deeper cooperation with Turkey.
But the attacks could also reignite anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe and increase popular demands on EU governments not to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens — a key stipulation from Ankara for cooperation on migrant issues, Stratfor underlined.
Anti-Muslim sentiment could also lead to more support for nationalist parties across the continent. Both France and Germany will hold general elections in 2017, in votes that will happen against the backdrop of the immigration crisis and the multiple terrorist attacks. In both cases, the mainstream parties will be under electoral pressure from their nationalist rivals. As a result, they will likely adopt some elements of nationalist party platforms.
The same can be expected in other Northern European countries such as the Netherlands or Sweden, which also have relatively strong nationalist movements.
Political parties and groups that want the United Kingdom to leave the European Union could also use the recent terrorist attacks to justify greater isolation from the Continent.
“For most Europeans, the threat of terrorism is by now a part of their daily lives. Beyond national politics and economics, the long-term impacts of the attacks will affect the very fabric of the European Union,” Stratfor warns.