The Union’s ailments

The EU is wavering (even) in the face of the terrorist threat. One of the founding values is now at risk: the free circulation of people.

In 2015, the European Union experienced perhaps its worst year since the integration project was established after the Second World War. Many fear that 2016 will see a clear change of direction.

The two cornerstones of the EU, freedom of movement across national borders and a single currency, are both under threat. The euro managed to survive the worst of the crisis when, at the height of the Greek turmoil, the idea of a return to national currencies stopped being a taboo. While the worst appears to be over, uncertainties remain, such as the difficult negotiations with Athens and the delicate situation concerning Britain’s future in the EU. Moreover, the argument that Europeans were better off with national currencies has been revived by political leaders of various persuasions across the eurozone in spite of a paucity of facts to back up the claim.

In addition to creeping uncertainty about the euro, corroborated by an economic recovery that is far from convincing, last year also saw the emergence of the Schengen crisis. Polls continue to show that the free movement area is viewed by EU citizens as the union’s most distinctive feature, though the project is teetering as never before under pressure from both the worst migration crisis the continent has seen since the World War II and the growing threat of Islamic terrorism. 

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