A Europe of Citizens

MADRID – Last month was another cruel one for Europe, culminating in the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22. The aftermath has seen a new round of soul searching, with Europeans mulling over the European Union’s institutional failures and sheer incompetence, not to mention the existential challenge it currently faces.

Such considerations seem to arise frequently these days, as Europe encounters a seemingly endless series of emergencies, from the Greek crisis to the influx of refugees. Yet complacency remains the order of the day, with EU leaders adopting to a crisis-response mentality that privileges reaction over action and perpetuates the cycle of destabilization.

The fact that crises have become the EU’s new normal has reinforced the notion, already ubiquitous among Europhiles and Eurocrats, that we will simply continue to muddle through. This approach is both misguided and dangerous.

As it stands, European unity is disintegrating rapidly. The just-concluded referendum in the Netherlands, in which Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, is merely the latest example. If the EU is to survive this slow-motion train wreck, let alone thrive in the long run, bold action – not just valiant rhetoric – is urgently needed.