I agree with Andy that the EU, despite the constitutional crisis, has scored several successes of late. To his list, I would add the EU’s ability to hang together on Iran and take the lead in searching for a diplomatic solution. Not only are the EU 3 generally moving in lock-stop, but they have been pro-active and creative.
However, I think it is both inaccurate and dangerous to dismiss the EU’s current troubles as just another passing moment of reflection. That view encourages complacency about Europe — both in Europe and in the US — a complacency that is not warranted. A distinct re-nationalization of political life is occurring across Europe, manifesting itself in an anti-EU, populist politics. Enlargement, economic stagnation, coping with Muslim immigrants, the passing of the World War II generation, profound political weakness across Europe’s major players — this is a perfect storm of sorts.
Just about every European I talk to these days — including die-hard federalists who have been constructing Europe for decades — is deeply worried. They insist that this moment of uncertainty is indeed more unsettling than any that have come before. If they are worried, then it seems those of us who observe from these shores should be worried as well.
At a moment when the United States is experiencing singular political weakness at home and abroad, it is especially disconcerting that the other main center of liberal democracy is stumbling as well.
Charles Kupchan is a professor at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The End of the American Era.