EU flag brussels Wiktor Dabkowskiv/ZumaPress

Europe’s Nationalist Night Watch

Europeans are increasingly glorifying the past to compensate for the disillusion and frustration of the present and the uncertainty of the future. Sixty years ago, a return to the past was precisely what European countries sought to avoid.

PARIS – Populism is on the rise throughout Europe, as both economically depressed and prosperous countries become increasingly frustrated with their established political elites. But populists are unlikely to take control of any European government in the foreseeable future, even where the risk currently seems highest, in countries such as Hungary, Greece, and France. The majority of voters, driven by fear or common sense, remain unwilling to accept the prospect of becoming isolated from the rest of Europe.

But that does not mean that the European Union is safe from divisive forces. On the contrary, the return of nationalism, even (and especially) in the countries that constituted the EU’s founding core more than 60 years ago, represents a less spectacular but potentially more corrosive threat to European unity.

This trend was starkly apparent last week during a visit to the Netherlands, one of the six original signatories of the Treaty of Rome. On my trip, I visited the Rijksmuseum, which was reopened in 2013, after a decade-long renovation. The previous building, aging and slightly outdated, was a tribute to the universal appeal of the country’s great painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer; it was a perfect celebration of light and family.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/7esLSmr;
  1. Trump & Turkey ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images.

    A Tax Plan that’s All Stuffing?

    US President Donald Trump has set a Christmas deadline for enacting the Republican tax plan, and economic observers are virtually unanimous in judging it a turkey. A scheme that squeezes the middle class and blows out the fiscal and current-account deficits may pass, but it will never fly. 

  2. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  3. Trump at UN Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    The Dangers of Nuclear Bombast

    US President Donald Trump has refused to recertify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an agreement that he once predicted would "lead to a nuclear holocaust." Unfortunately, by creating more perverse incentives for hostile regimes to pursue nuclear armaments at all costs, Trump has made the nightmare scenario he fears even more likely.

  4. Adam Michnik Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Europe’s New Eastern Question

    interviews

    Insider Interview

    • With right-wing populists ascendant in Poland and Hungary, and gaining ground elsewhere in the European Union, politics in some parts of the West looks increasingly like politics in Russia.

    • Sławomir Sierakowski, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw interviews Adam Michnik, one of the intellectual architects of Solidarity and of the transition from communism in Central Europe, on Europe's illiberal turn.
  5. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  6. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  7. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.