Friday, July 27, 2012

For E.U. Leaders, a Political Dare

by John Vinocur

New York Times

July 27, 2012

Europe’s Olympian vision of its future — great power plus universal indispensability as a beacon of reason — has dimmed to a flicker. Without willingness to accept a dare or two, the situation is unlikely to brighten soon.

The European Union’s debt and deficit grief, compounded by a crisis of political will, is much more than a bad moment that puts progress temporarily on hold.

The community’s faster-higher- stronger thread of grand ambitions has frayed. And the vision meant to give it direction, an independent political role — and to project Europe to the world as something wiser and more responsible than other great powers — has faded.

There are no doubts tingeing the European Union’s exceptional practical achievements, like a single regulatory system or open internal borders. And no one could disparage smaller successes — on the order of reduced mobile phone roaming charges, which save the average E.U. business traveler €1,000 annually. The problem involves once-great-notions associated with Europe that now seem empty and overreaching, shaking confidence in its claim to unlimited promise.

Beyond concern for the euro’s permanence, the list of disillusionment is long.


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