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Europe Must Avoid Self-Fulfilling Pessimism

Despite the pessimism that has pervaded Europe in recent years, the fact is that the EU remains an economic and regulatory superpower, with massive diplomatic potential. If Europeans recognize this, regain their collective self-confidence, and take constructive action, their future can be bright.

MADRID – Over the last decade, the requisite year-end reflections and predictions have become increasingly bleak. This pessimism is understandable: inequality has been rising sharply in much of the world; democratic values and norms of governance have been steadily eroded; and technology has transformed our societies and economies so rapidly that many have been left feeling overwhelmed and insecure. But we must take care not to allow grim predictions to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Consider the European Union. As their international clout has declined, Europeans have been made to feel increasingly powerless, as individuals, as nations, and as a bloc. Without a unifying vision for the future, the EU has lost its élan and fallen victim to passivity and fear under the guise of nostalgia.

But the past for which many Europeans long never actually existed, and the present that they eschew isn’t nearly as bad as it seems: Europe remains an economic and regulatory superpower, with massive diplomatic potential. If Europeans recognize this and regain their collective self-confidence, their future can be bright.

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