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Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Five reasons why Europe is cracking up.

by José Ignacio Torreblanca3 June 2011 on Open DEmocracy as…

This article was first published in the El Pais daily newspaper, 15/05/11

José Ignacio Torreblanca joined the European Council on Foreign Relations as a Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Madrid Office in September 2007.

He found that:

In Germany, France and Italy, but also in many other places, we find ourselves confronted with a generation of leaders ever more shortsighted and given over to electioneering: among them, none speak to Europe nor for Europe.

Denmark has reintroduced border controls with the populist excuse of controlling crime. By taking the step, the country that was once a model of democracy, tolerance and social justice has placed itself on the frontlines of a Europe that is increasingly surrendering to fear and xenophobia.

Greece, meanwhile, has spent more than a year teetering on a cliff edge and few fellow European governments seem disappointed that it may abandon the euro – some of them are even secretly supporting the markets against Athens.

Finland has thrown itself into the arms of xenophobic populism and, following in the footsteps of Slovakia, has refused to finance the bailout of Portugal.

With elections around the corner, France and Italy have taken advantage of the Tunisian uprising to restrict the free movement of people within the European Union.

And Germany, unhappy at managing the euro crisis amid regional elections, has broken ranks with France and the United Kingdom in the United Nations Security Council, ignoring the Libya crisis and undermining 10 years of European security policy.

With the future of the euro in doubt and the Arab world erupting, European leaders are governing on the basis of opinion polls and electoral processes, hanging on to power through any means possible even if that results in undoing the Europe that it took so much time and so many sacrifices to build. Few times in the past has the European project been so questioned and its disgraces so publicly exposed. It would seem that in the Europe of today, having a large xenophobic political party is obligatory.

The truth is that Europe is cracking up along four fault lines: its values, the euro, foreign policy and leadership.

If there is no radical change, the integration process could collapse, leaving the future of Europe as an economically and politically relevant entity up in the air.

If interested to read further on issues like:

A project without fuel

Crisis of values and political shortsightedness

The end of solidarity

Absent from the world

The rebellion of the elites

please go to the original:…

With every passing day, the sensation that Europe is fragmenting is more real and more justified. Can Europe break apart? The answer is evident: yes, of course it can. At the end of the day, the European Union is a human construction, not a celestial body. That it is necessary and beneficial justifies its existence, but that will not prevent it from disappearing. Just as a series of favorable circumstances led to the risky launch of this grand project, the unleashing of a series of adverse circumstances could very easily make it disappear, especially if those responsible for defending it shirk their responsibilities. Many committed pro-Europeans are conscious that the danger of Europe unravelling is very real, and they are duly worried about the course of events. However, at the same time, they fear that feeding pessimism with warnings of this nature could only serve to accelerate the collapse. But when, day after day, we see the red lines of decency and the values that Europe embodies being crossed by bigoted politicians who unscrupulously fuel the fears of citizens, it is impossible to continue looking the other way. Seeing the clarity of ideas and the determination with which the anti-Europeans pursue their objectives, it is hard to believe that mere optimism will be sufficient by itself to save Europe from the ghosts of doggedness, egoism and xenophobia that are haunting it at present. Without an equal level of determination and clarity of ideas from the other side, Europe will fail.

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