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Europe’s Double Opportunity

Some view the rise of populism – mostly of the right-wing variety – in the EU as a sign that, far from being ready to play a global leadership role, the EU may be disintegrating. But the EU’s situation is much more complicated than the pessimists make it out to be – and not nearly as bleak.

WASHINGTON, DC – Europe has a decision to make. It can stand by as nationalism and authoritarianism flourish from the United States (with Donald Trump’s “America First” approach) to China (which is moving from a single-party system to a single-leader regime). Or it can lead a reinvigoration of democratic values and international cooperation, at a time when rapid technology-driven change demands major political, economic, and social reforms.

Some view the rise of populism – mostly of the right-wing variety – in the European Union as a sign that, far from being ready to play a leadership role, the EU may be disintegrating. But the EU’s situation is much more complicated than the pessimists make it out to be – and not nearly as bleak.

Last autumn, the Special Eurobarometer 467 survey showed that 75% of respondents viewed the EU positively. Though a majority of respondents think their children’s lives will be more difficult than theirs own, two-thirds believe that the EU offers hope for Europe’s youth – an increase of six percentage points from 2016.

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