Judy Dempsey writes: Throughout 2016, Europe has lurched from one crisis to another. The British voted to leave the EU. Russia stepped up its interference in domestic politics in several European countries by planting false news stories and financing populist, right-wing movements. Terrorist attacks and the refugee and eurozone crises divided the EU’s 28 member states.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Americans elected Donald Trump as their next president on a ticket promising to make the United States great again. Trump professes little interest in what has kept the West together: the transatlantic relationship.
All the above crises have one thing in common. They are having a profound effect on Europe’s future. As 2016 draws to a close, the EU’s extreme vulnerability and growing instability are exposed.
The Brexit decision has weakened Europe. If they chose to do so, European leaders could mitigate the political fallout of Britain’s exit. But instead of using Brexit to push for further integration or a two-speed Europe — or even as a chance to get out of their bubble to explain why Europe matters — most leaders are engaged in petty institutional or domestic power games. As they do so, they seem to underestimate how the roles of Russia and the United States are planting the seeds of Europe’s destruction. [Continue reading…]