Oct 11, 2021
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Europe is a big transition

The European Union has serious problems, but it’s too early to talk about the decline

Recently renowned American expert Patrick Buchanan (former assistant to President Richard Nixon, former presidential candidate, author of several books, founding editor of the magazine American conservative) published an article “The Decline of Europe”, in which he once again noted what had been said more than once before him: the future belongs to Asia; America’s pivot towards China and the Indo-Pacific is a constant value, while Europe is the past (there is no unity, NATO is weakening, etc.).

And here two questions arise. First, is everything really that bad in Europe, or is the patient rather alive than dead? Second, is America leaving Europe going?

Crisis in the EU

When dealing with the first question, the classic work of Oswald Spengler “The Decline of Europe” (1918-1922) immediately comes to mind. However, a lot has changed since then: Europe managed to survive the destructive in every sense of the Second World War, to enter the integration cycle in the form of the European Union. The situation today is fundamentally different, already because it is not the Europe of states, in which everything is against everyone, that is “rolling away” (?), But a united European whole with a single European currency, with supranational institutions of power.

In other words, if Europe is going downhill today, it is doing it from a higher floor (of the European Union). Although it is probably too early to talk about the decline of the EU: the current state of the Union, which Buchanan considers the decline, can rather be described as a stage of a great transition with an unknown outcome (this stage coincides with the transition period of the entire system of international relations, due to which the tension in the above). Europe can go both along the path of deep disintegration (disintegration of the EU and individual states) and along the path of federalization (full or partial, in which the adherents of national sovereignty will either end up outside the EU or live within the bloc according to different rules compared to the integrated core ).

Crisis in the EU

At the same time, Brexit and the confrontation between Brussels and Warsaw and Budapest (which became especially aggravated after the adoption in Hungary of a law prohibiting the propaganda of LGBT ideology and the decision of the Polish Constitutional Court on the union.

Then the question arises: which scenario is more likely? Skeptics will say that, firstly, the EU does not have a developmental ideology, and the idea of ​​a value force degenerates into a destructive postmodernist concept of unlimited tolerance, which repels traditionally conservative societies. Secondly, the coronavirus epic showed that in a critical situation, everyone in Europe is for himself, and the institutions of the European Union are ineffective. Thirdly, before our very eyes the ethnic face of Europe is changing and migrants are beginning to impose their foundations on it (remember, for example, the letter of the French generals).

Finally, there is an acute leadership deficit in the Old World. French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to raise the flag of a united Europe, but he is not Napoleon. Long-term German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also not something outstanding in terms of political charisma and pressure, but those who replace her do not even reach her level.


Optimists will argue: according to Eurostat, the European economy has recovered from quarantine measures and isolation faster than expected, consumer spending is growing – people have returned to shops, hotels, vacation spots. And in general, the dynamics of the EU’s GDP, the role of the euro as a world currency allow us to speak of a serious reserve of economic strength and the influence of the bloc. European supranational institutions of power, despite all the bureaucracy and complexity of decision-making in them, are able to find compromises even in the most difficult situations. The problem of European leaders exists, but the integration agenda continues to live on.

EU GDP by year in billions of US dollars

EU GDP by years in billions of US dollars. Source:

For example, recently there has been renewed talk about the need to create an EU army. The head of the European Commission said bluntly: “We need a European Defense Union.” And then it’s time to answer the second question of the article, but what about the United States?

On the one hand, Washington is not against taking advantage of the Europeans (putting them under attack) in its struggle with China and Russia – it was not in vain that Joe Biden traveled overseas and invented a “summit of democracies” to fight the global authoritarian evil. In addition, in the European Union, the United States has infinitely loyal allies in the person of Poland and the Baltic states, which are struggling to prevent the cutting (or at least pinching) the umbilical cord of Europe’s transatlantic dependence on America. On the other hand, the stories with Nord Stream 2 (when Washington retreated, signing its helplessness in this matter) and the creation of AUKUS (with the public humiliation of France and the belittling of the role of NATO) show that the Americans no longer have enough strength to force the Europeans to act. the way they need it, and therefore today they are probably ready to let Europe float freely and act without looking back at it.

EU and US flags

In short, now the EU is facing a decisive moment: to finally determine how to live further, both internal (for example, the behavior of Poland) and external (change of US foreign policy priorities in favor of Asia) are pushing the Union towards this. At the same time, Europe has enough potential for the successful continuation in one form or another of the integration project and its independent development. It remains only to make a decision that would dot the i.

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