Brussels Notebook

BARBARIANS AT THE GATES“ The worst is over; the economic crisis is behind us.” European leaders have been repeating the mantra over and over again. And they may be right about the economy, but it’s the political repercussions of the crisis they should be worrying about.

Many suspect that the European Parliament elections in May are set to shock a continent that for decades has believed in the inevitability of an ever closer political union based on a fusion of Christian, social democratic and liberal values. Extremist parties on the left and the right of the political spectrum, some think, may double the number of votes and seats they currently hold in parliament. When more than 500 million people across the 28-member bloc will vote to elect 751 MEPs, as many as 25 per cent could be from anti-immigration and distinctly anti-EU parties.

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