The European dream is broken but not dead.
This weekend, europeans voted for the European Parliament election. Among other news, the results showed a significant increase of the representation of the far right in the EU parliament. In France for example, and for the first time ever, the far right even came out as winner in front of the two historical (and more moderate) parties.
This is worrisome as it brings to power a large number of extreme parties, which are not usually favorable to the European ideal (the idea of creating a large, unified and borderless European block). Regardless of political beliefs, the main issue with those results is that the European project is already too advanced to really make significant changes to it (like axing the Euro). Having elected politicians who are now Eurosceptic doesn’t seem to offer, in the near future, the required governance for constructive decisions or progress. Europe is going to lose precious time; time it can’t afford on the global stage.
The results of this election are in large part explained by the current economic situation prevailing in many european countries. High unemployment, non-existing growth and rising insecurity lead citizens to vote for the extremes. This is also the expression of a profound dissatisfaction (and historically, we know how dangerous this can be).
The real problem for Europe today is to be in an “in-between situation”. Many operating aspects of the Union are still in the oversight of individual countries (e.g. fiscal laws). There is not yet a real, single European leader. Countries keep constantly negotiating exceptions for themselves. Culturally, individuals feel closer to their national origin than to a European ideal. All these will be hard to change.
Until Europeans accept to give away broad national powers to the Union, the EU will have a hard time realizing all of its potential or solving its economic problems in the first place. To succeed, the EU needs to leverage more efficiently the power of its block and this is unlikely to happen with the new elected parliament.
Still, as economic cycles come and go naturally, we can only hope that better times in the future will lead citizens to move back to a vision of a more integrated, peaceful and geo-politically useful Europe. This is not going to happen soon but somehow the EU is here to stay. Why therefore not make the best out of it?