European Leaders Are Facing Their Armageddon

Europe’s messy handling of the second and third waves of the coronavirus pandemic and the stalling of vaccination programs highlight the EU’s deep contradictions. The union’s ability to bounce back—let alone bounce back better—is now in question.

The €750 billion ($890 billion) post-coronavirus recovery fund that EU countries agreed to in July 2020 inaugurated a seminormal European summer, despite the pandemic. With the sunshine came optimism that the EU had taken bold steps. It was not a “Hamiltonian moment,” in the words of some observers, because the deal did not herald a new phase of political integration. But the package marked a change from the previous decade, in which the EU had moved from crisis to crisis with conservative, short-term solutions that never addressed the problems of the eurozone, security, migration, or hostile international policies.

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