After half a dozen years of economic decline and political hardship EU measured its demos in the elections to the European Parliament. The result was just about expected, though probably not at all what the ”Europeans” — whoever they are these days — were eager to see. Given a choice between a commitment towards the globalization of world politics and going home, going home, by and large, won.
WRITING some 50 years ago, Archduke Otto Hapsburg, the last pretender to the crowns of Austria and Hungary, warned that economic cooperation alone would not satisfy the peoples of Europe and that European unification could not succeed unless it was imbued with an abstract principle. Only something as mystical, he wrote, as the Holy Roman Empire could give people hope, a sense of religious renewal and combat the pernicious effects of local interest, chauvinism, xenophobia and racism. Today’s European crisis indeed shows that great political institutions cannot be constituted solely on a rational basis or through the bureaucracy and incrementalism of Brussels.