At Open Democracy, José Ignacio Torreblanca writes:
Denmark has reintroduced border controls with the populist excuse of controlling crime. By taking the step, the country that was once a model of democracy, tolerance and social justice has placed itself on the frontlines of a Europe that is increasingly surrendering to fear and xenophobia. Greece, meanwhile, has spent more than a year teetering on a cliff edge and few fellow European governments seem disappointed that it may abandon the euro – some of them are even secretly supporting the markets against Athens. Finland has thrown itself into the arms of xenophobic populism and, following in the footsteps of Slovakia, has refused to finance the bailout of Portugal. With elections around the corner, France and Italy have taken advantage of the Tunisian uprising to restrict the free movement of people within the European Union. And Germany, unhappy at managing the euro crisis amid regional elections, has broken ranks with France and the United Kingdom in the United Nations Security Council, ignoring the Libya crisis and undermining 10 years of European security policy.
With the future of the euro in doubt and the Arab world erupting, European leaders are governing on the basis of opinion polls and electoral processes, hanging on to power through any means possible even if that results in undoing the Europe that it took so much time and so many sacrifices to build. Few times in the past has the European project been so questioned and its disgraces so publicly exposed. It would seem that in the Europe of today, having a large xenophobic political party is obligatory. The truth is that Europe is cracking up along four fault lines: its values, the euro, foreign policy and leadership. If there is no radical change, the integration process could collapse, leaving the future of Europe as an economically and politically relevant entity up in the air.
This crisis is neither brief nor temporary: we are not just going through a bad patch, nor are we victims of groundless pessimism. To see the danger facing the project of European integration we only have to look back one decade. The contrast with the current situation is revealing. After launching the euro on January 1, 1999, the European Union approved the Lisbon Strategy, which promised to make the EU the most dynamic, competitive and sustainable economy in the world. The bloc also committed itself to expanding freedom, security and justice, taking European integration into areas such as policing, justice and immigration, which until then had remained on the sidelines of the construction of Europe. And to crown this process and to give itself a real political union that would allow the bloc to become a relevant global actor in the 21st century world, it launched the process of drafting the European Constitution.