It's time to emphasise the EU's virtues
Gilles Merritt
This has been a roller-coaster year for Europe. It opened amidst widespread despondency, chiefly over Brexit but also over the rising tide of populism, then perked up when euro-enthusiast Emmanuel Macron was elected to the French presidency, and now is drifting back towards the doldrums. The momentum for tackling outstanding issues like Eurozone reform is slowing. The outcome of Germany's Bundestag elections isn't helping, and nor are developments in Catalonia, Austria and the four 'Visegrad’ countries.
Economic factors are to be blamed, but it is a cultural backlash as well
John Springford, Simon Tilford
Can the wave of right-wing, nationalist populism sweeping the developed world be explained by legitimate economic grievances or does it have its roots in a cultural backlash against liberalism and immigration? There is no doubt that poor economic performance provides part of the explanation, but it does not alone explain what is happening. After all, some developed countries that suffered most during the downturn, and which still face serious economic pressures have not fallen under the populist spell.
Nick Witney
Big noise on stairs, nobody coming down. Alas, the old Chinese saying applies all too aptly to the EU's latest scheme for promoting defence efforts by its Member States: permanent structured cooperation, or PESCO.