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Progressive Europeanism in Action

The real battle in Europe is not between north and south, but between progressives and authoritarians – whether establishment austerians or insurgent racists – in every EU country. Only transnational democracy can counter the sectarian, nationalist narratives that conceal this underlying struggle.

ATHENS – Despite its obvious significance, Brexit is a mere sideshow when compared to the muffled but more fundamental disintegration taking place across the European Union. The political center is not holding in the key member states. Nationalism is on the march everywhere. Even pro-European governments have, in practice, abandoned all blueprints for genuine consolidation and are increasingly drifting toward re-nationalization of banking systems, public debt, and social policy.

With Brexit from the north and the Italian government’s deployment of xenophobic anti-Europeanism from the south, “ever-closer union” is becoming a farcical symbol of the disconnect between reality and the EU establishment’s propaganda. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political eclipse is adding impetus to this dynamic.

While most eyes are on events in London and Rome, it is Germany that offers the best clues to the EU’s weakened state. Germany is experiencing a paradoxical crisis. Europe’s powerhouse is awash with money. A breath-taking current-account surplus is producing a tsunami of capital inflows. The federal government is in surplus. Foreign savings from across Europe are seeking a safe haven in German banks. German households are saving. Even German corporations hoard cash.