Europe is burning, slowly

What all this seems to be suggesting is that at least right now the two things that ought to be pulling Europeans together if they were really headed toward building a much stronger union—money and foreign policy—are instead pulling them apart. The creation of the euro is responsible for more hatred and suspicion among Europeans than any other event since World War Two, and the bloc seems unable to agree on an international strategy.

Over the decades, many English-speaking analysts have looked at phenomena like these and predicted that the European experiment would ultimately fall apart. That seems unlikely to me. In spite of their differences and their quarrels most Europeans—and especially most of the elites in those countries—are much too committed to the “European Project” to let it break up. Many economists looked at the deep design flaws of the euro, for example, and predicted that this unwieldy currency would never get off the ground. Those skeptics were right that the euro wouldn’t work well, but they underestimated the depth of the commitment to putting the euro in place, disaster or not.

These days, the euro is held up partly by sheer political will, but partly also by the sober realization that the pain of dismantling the currency would be intense under the best of circumstances and that the political and economic issues involved would make it impossible to get out of the euro adroitly. Europe is a very wealthy continent and if it wants a common currency it has the wherewithal to pay for one for a long time to come.

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