BERLIN – Since 2009, when the financial crisis that started in America in 2008 shook the eurozone to its core, crisis management has become Europe’s new normal. Indeed, crisis has followed crisis in Europe, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Europe has had a financial crisis, a Greek crisis, a Ukraine crisis, and, since the late summer of 2015, a refugee crisis. And now, with the UK, one of the European Union’s strongest member states economically and militarily, holding a referendum on June 23 on whether to leave the EU (so-called Brexit), Europe could soon be facing a secession crisis.
Indeed, a massive crisis of trust vis-à-vis Europe and its institutions has developed in most EU member states, fueling a revival of nationalist political parties and ideas and a slackening of European solidarity. The re-nationalization of Europe is accelerating, making this crisis the most dangerous of all, as it threatens disintegration from within.
The EU’s political leaders – the heads of state and government of the member states and the leaders of the European Council and the European Commission – made a fateful decision in the wake of the financial crisis. They placed their trust in crisis-mode management, rather than developing a vision for Europe and a strategy to achieve it.