Building Greater Europe

MOSCOW – Greater Europe is at a crossroads. Twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, it remains divided, unable to unify into a global force. Each of the three parts of Greater Europe – Russia, the European Union, and the countries between them – is in crisis. The causes and forms of these crises differ, but the consequences are almost identical.

Russia has reached the limit of growth derived from its post-communist reconstruction. Today, it has strengthened its state institutions, overcome economic decline, and regained status as a major actor in world politics.

Yet Russia’s future is questionable. Soviet resources, in terms both of infrastructure and ideology, are exhausted. The country’s economy remains unable to make optimal use of relatively high energy-export revenues. Russian society and its leaders have no clear vision of the future, and the country’s demographic decline offers little hope of a rapid and sustainable turnaround. This suggests that Russia, unable to compete with the world’s fast-developing countries, will have to direct its efforts towards protecting its waning assets.

The EU gives the outward impression of being a successful project. Europeans are experiencing an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity; their integration model has now spread to include most of the continent. But governing the enlarged union has become more difficult and less efficient. Consolidation is giving way to friction, with more energy needed to overcome the EU’s internal problems.