European Union's Future

December 16, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 44
Can the EU survive populism and a migration crisis?
By Corine Hegland


Workers at Italy's Meridiana Airline protest (Getty Images/Corbis/Stefano Montesi)
Workers at Italy's Meridiana Airline protest on May 12 against proposed layoffs. Europe's sluggish economy is fueling widespread dissatisfaction with the 28-nation European Union. Much of the eurozone — the 19 EU states that use the euro currency — is just emerging from the 2007–09 global recession. (Getty Images/Corbis/Stefano Montesi)

As the 28-nation European Union approaches its 60th anniversary, it is struggling to hang together in the midst of numerous challenges, including sluggish economies, a migration crisis and rising populism. Founded in the ashes of World War II, the EU sought to end ruinous national rivalries and forge an organization in which Europeans would work together to build a prosperous future. The EU's supporters say the Union has largely fulfilled these goals but that its success has led to an irony: Expansion from the original six member states has opened up new divisions between the wealthier north and the poorer south and between those states favoring a stronger central authority and those wanting power returned to national capitals. Britain's vote to exit the EU — dubbed Brexit — has raised further questions about the Union's viability. For now, many analysts agree, steps toward greater integration appear impossible, although the EU might be able to press ahead with plans for closer cooperation among members' militaries after Britain leaves.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
European Unification
Apr. 05, 2019  European Union at a Crossroads
Dec. 16, 2016  European Union's Future
Jan. 09, 2015  European Unrest
Apr. 17, 2012  Future of the EU
Aug. 2007  The New Europe
Oct. 28, 2005  Future of the European Union
Nov. 27, 1998  European Monetary Union
Jun. 28, 1991  Europe 1992
Jan. 13, 1989  Europe 1992: Danger or Opportunity?
May 11, 1979  Electing Europe's Parliament
Jan. 17, 1973  European Security
Sep. 03, 1969  Benelux Cooperation
Jun. 15, 1966  European Realignment
Sep. 19, 1962  Political Integration of Europe
Mar. 27, 1957  European Economic Union
Jan. 02, 1952  European Unification
Jan. 08, 1951  Defense of Europe
May 21, 1947  Federation of Europe
Nov. 16, 1939  Federal Union and World Peace
Apr. 12, 1933  European Political Alignments
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Conservatism and Liberalism
Economic Crises
General International Relations
Global Issues
Humanitarian Assistance
Immigration and Naturalization
International Economic Development
Protest Movements
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
War and Conflict