Nationalism in the EU Getty Images

How Much Europe Do Europeans Need?

It is absurd to think that Europe’s historic nation-states are an answer to the globalized realities of the twenty-first century. The most important global decisions in this century will not be made democratically in Europe or individually in European capitals, but unilaterally in China or elsewhere.

BERLIN – In his final address to the European Parliament in 1995, then-French President François Mitterrand, whose failing health was evident to all, found the following indelible words to characterize Europe’s great scourge: “Le nationalisme, c’est la guerre!

Nationalism and war were the defining experiences of Mitterrand’s political career, and he was referring not only to the dreadful past – the first half of the twentieth century, with its two World Wars, dictatorships, and the Holocaust. He viewed nationalism as the greatest future threat to European peace, democracy, and security.

Although nationalist war was tearing apart Yugoslavia at the time, few of those who listened to Mitterrand in Strasbourg that day could have imagined that, 21 years later, nationalism would be experiencing a Europe-wide revival. But nationalist politicians whose declared goal is to destroy Europe’s unity and peaceful integration have now won in major democratic elections and referenda.

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