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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th July 2016 > CAN EUROPE SAVE ITSELF?

CAN EUROPE SAVE ITSELF?

Brexit shows the European Union needs to reject ‘ever closer union’ and become more democratic

ON THE MORNING after the Brexit vote, a dazed Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, a body consisting of the heads of government of the 28 countries in the European Union, was asked to react to the historic vote. Ironically, he quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century philosopher whose work influenced the rise of German militarism that led to two world wars—the conflagrations the EU was designed to prevent from happening again. “What doesn’t kill you,” Tusk proclaimed, “makes you stronger.”

We are going to see about that now, aren’t we? The European project has faced numerous setbacks in the years since Jean Monnet, the father of unified Europe, started the six-country coal and steel common market in 1951 that eventually evolved into the supranational body that is today’s EU. But never has it faced anything quite like this.

On multiple levels, Europe today appears to be a disaster. Most of its economies are seeing slow or no growth; unemployment rates in what Europeans call “the periphery”—Spain, Portugal and Greece—are scandalously high; youth unemployment in Greece and Spain is more than 40 percent; and, in the eurozone overall, more than 10 percent of the working-age population is out of work. The European Central Bank is running a negative interest rate policy in a desperate effort to ward off a debilitating bout of deflation. And Europe’s immigration policy—arguably the major reason for the stunning Brexit vote—remains calamitous. Just ask outgoing U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. On June 29, at a farewell meeting with fellow heads of state in Brussels, he publicly blamed the Brexit outcome on the EU’s unwillingness to give him “an emergency brake” with which to control migration.

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Can Europe Save Itself? - On the morning after the Brexit vote, a dazed Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, a body consisting of the heads of government of the 28 countries in the European Union, was asked to react to the historic vote. Ironically, he quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century philosopher whose work influenced the rise of German militarism that led to two world wars - the conflagrations the EU was designed to prevent from happening again. “What doesn’t kill you,” Tusk proclaimed, “makes you stronger.”
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