Every time a crisis hits the Continent, “prophets of doom” predict the worst for the EU, says Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times. But while Europe is having a dismal pandemic, there’s no cause for despair. The EU project has been around in some form for 70 years, and has survived many “crises and self-inflicted wounds” while more than quadrupling in size. Perhaps it’s time we recognised its resilience. If you’re looking for unions in deep trouble, the US and the UK are more plausible candidates. America has just seen the Capitol stormed by an angry mob. Violence in Northern Ireland and talk of a second referendum in Scotland threaten to cleave off a third of the UK’s territory.
The threat of an EU break-up, on the other hand, is receding. After Brexit, ascendant populists across Europe threatened to follow Britain’s lead. Now the likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Matteo Salvini in Italy have changed their tune. They haven’t suddenly fallen in love with Brussels, but they can read polls. And the trend is one-way: the young are more pro-EU than older voters. With China and Russia looking more threatening, and the US less reliable, the case for European sticking together is becoming more compelling. Its evolving balance between national and supranational power is a source of stability and strength, not weakness.
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