Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

De Europese leiderschapscrisis

BRUSSEL – De lijst van crises in de Europese Unie blijft maar langer worden. Maar in plaats van de Brexit-stem van Groot-Brittannië om het blok te verlaten, de verwikkelingen rond het Constitutionele Hof van Polen, Russisch expansionisme, migranten en vluchtelingen, en oplaaiend nationalisme, komt de grootste bedreiging voor de EU van binnenuit; een crisis van politiek leiderschap verlamt zijn instituties.

Het was net alsof de lidstaten van de EU (met uitzondering van de Engelse premier Theresa May) dit punt wilden bewijzen toen ze recent bijeenkwamen in Bratislava in Slowakije in een poging om solidariteit te tonen, en om de aftrap te geven van het post-Brexit hervormingsproces. De aanwezigen boekten enige vooruitgang richting de creatie van een Europese Defensie Unie, wat we zouden moeten verwelkomen, en richting de toegave dat het huidige organisatiekader van de EU onhoudbaar is; maar er werd nauwelijks gesproken over institutionele of economische hervormingen van enige betekenis.

Ondertussen bevestigde de weigering van de Italiaanse premier Matteo Renzi om voor de camera’s te verschijnen met de Franse president François Hollande en de Duitse kanselier Angela Merkel de vrees dat stuurloos leiderschap de institutionele dysfunctie vergroot. Een top die een vertoning van eenheid had moeten zijn onthulde slechts verdere verdeeldheid.

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