Creaking at 60: The future of the European Union

THE EUROPEAN PROJECT has sometimes given the impression of being in perpetual crisis. Indeed, its spiritual father, Jean Monnet, saw this as the best way to advance to his preferred goal of “ever closer union”, arguing that “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises.” Yet as the union prepares to celebrate 60 years since its founding treaty was signed in Rome on March 25th 1957, it is in deeper trouble than ever.

A big reason for this is the politics in EU member countries. Crucial elections loom in many this year, and populist parties opposed to the European project and in favour of referendums on membership of the euro, the EU or both are likely to do well. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s anti-European Freedom Party gained seats in an election on March 15th, though fewer than many had feared. In France Marine Le Pen of the National Front is expected to win a place in the second, run-off round of the presidential election in early May, just as her father did in 2002. Although, like him, she will probably lose, she will come closer to winning than he did. And if she loses, it may be to Emmanuel Macron, who is running as an outsider with an untried political party.


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