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Standing Up for Europe

Today’s European Union needs both salvation and radical reinvention. Saving the EU must take precedence, because Europe is in existential danger; but, as French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized during his election campaign, reviving the support that the EU used to enjoy is no less essential.

BRUSSELS – Today’s European Union needs both salvation and radical reinvention. Saving the EU must take precedence, because Europe is in existential danger. But, as French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized during his election campaign, reviving the support that the EU used to enjoy is no less essential.

The existential danger the EU faces is partly external. The Union is surrounded by powers that are hostile to what it stands for – Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s Egypt, and the America that Donald Trump would create if he could.

But the threat also comes from within. The EU is governed by treaties that, following the financial crisis of 2008, became largely irrelevant to conditions prevailing in the eurozone. Even the simplest innovations necessary to make the single currency sustainable could be introduced only by intergovernmental arrangements outside the existing treaties. And, as the functioning of European institutions became increasingly complicated, the EU itself gradually became dysfunctional in some ways.

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