Sixty years after the beginnings of the European idea, the EU is in trouble. Debt and currency crises have eroded confidence into the European project while member states remain hesitant to transfer power to Brussels. Yet historically, crisis has always resulted in further integration.
Populism is the current trending topic when one explains politics in Western countries. Though it is not a new concept, it is rising in Europe and it also managed to win hearts and minds of American people last year who chose Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States.
“The residents of the East German village Unterleuten didn’t read the papers, didn’t watch TV, didn’t use the World Wide Web. Politicians didn’t pay attention to Unterleuten – why would Unterleuten pay attention to politics? The village was missing stores, doctors, clergymen, the postal service, a pharmacy, as well as a school – it didn’t have sewerage either.” Juli Zeh hereby hits the bull’s eye.
Just over a week ago the UK’s latest Prime Minister was revealed. The leadership contest, sparked by the country’s vote to leave the EU and expected to last weeks, was over in just days. Is this a reflection of the UK’s political environment post Brexit? Matthew Amroliwala from the BBC reflects on covering the day David Cameron waved good bye and Theresa May embarked on her premiership.
We do not know whether Brexit will bring about more harm or benefit for Europe. It is a sad moment to see a great European country leaving the Union, and it also raises questions about the future of the UK as a mid-ranked European power and, indeed, as a united kingdom. The EU may come out of this turmoil institutionally strengthened, and its Eastern member states may be especially better off.
“These Britons are crazy!” is no longer just the familiar saying from the Asterix comics. On Friday morning, the news that the British really do want a divorce from the EU, analysts often did little more than invoke in incomprehension the bon mots from ‘Asterix’. By mid-morning, ‘Google News’ featured approximately 1,800 German articles that included the German version of the quote.