Built from the ruins of war and expanded generously in the euphoria after the Soviet collapse, the European Union heralded itself as a model, radiating “soft power.” But now the model looks tarnished and flawed.
Leaders seem diminished; local politics trump solidarity. There is a new nationalism degrading the collective responsibility and shared sovereignty that defines the European Union. Euro-skepticism runs from far-right parties that simultaneously detest immigrants, globalism and Brussels to the governing parties of Europe’s most successful countries.
A European Union of 15 nations seemed coherent and manageable; the Europe of 27, soon to be 28, is almost ungovernable, even by a professional bureaucracy with little connection to voters and whose decisions cause increasing resentment, summarized in the “democratic deficit” that the European Union suffers.
The historical ironies are considerable.