Following the devastation of the Second World War, European nations made a commitment toward economic and political integration and cooperation in the hopes that this convergence would bring stability to the Continent. Today’s European Union with its 28 member states appeared to be the realization of a vision that was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 when the six founding members — Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands — created the European Economic Community (EEC) that was to bring an “ever closer union” of the peoples of Europe.
With the financial crisis of 2008, however, the term “crisis” became synonymous with Europe and challenged its ability to manage issues effectively and equitably among member states. The political winds also began to shift as populist and nationalist parties became more prominent on the political stage across Europe. The Brexit vote of 2016 was the first manifestation of the changing tide as it opened the door for the United Kingdom’s exit from the Union. The election of President Trump in the United States deepened concerns over the post-war order and security.
These developments, among others, have called into question the future of the European Union. Can the European Union successfully manage the persistent debt crisis and address populist concerns? Or will integration break down under the weight of the economic, political, and security challenges?