Perspective: Europe's Shaky Ground; Global Terrorism, Nationalism and the Rise of Right-Wing Politics Could All Halt Britain's Move towards a Closer Union with Europe, Says Andrew Sparrow
Byline: Andrew Sparrow
The moment for the UK coming to terms with full participation in Europe might just have passed.
Historians may one day write that 2002 was the year which saw the European ideal come within grasp - only to slip away heralding a fragmentation of political, economic and social cohesion.
Nationalist politics, predicated on victimising Islamic culture for terrorist atrocities perpetrated in its name could destabilise Europe. The march of harmonisation may be about to take a step back.
European integration has always evoked strong feelings in the UK and has occupied the political arena for much of the post-war period.
However, developments currently gaining momentum threaten to undermine the stability of the Continent, the consequences of which would not appeal to even the most sceptical of European integration.
The political geography of Europe is shifting. Less than three years ago, left of centre governments were in power in 11 out of 15 EU states. With victory for the right in France this month and a similar outcome possible in Germany in September, that number could be reduced to five. Moreover we are seeing not just the return of the moderate right, but the resurgence of the far right.
If the trend toward nationalism were to continue, markets, inherently nervous, may slow in enthusiasm for the European trading block. The efficient functioning of Europe as an economic group could suffer if the interests of its member states are brought significantly to the fore on a range of policy issues.
The effect of social instability in Europe will clearly undermine the prospects for success of the single currency and the appetite of the UK for joining the euro. …