Last week offered fresh evidence that the most consequential historical shift of the last 100 years continues: the decline of Europe as a force in world affairs. As Deutsche Bank warned of a German recession, the European Commission cut the 2019 eurozone growth forecast from an already anemic 1.9% to 1.3%. Economic output in the eurozone was lower in 2017 than it was in 2009; over that same period, gross domestic product grew 139% in China, 96% in India, and 34% in the U.S., according to the World Bank.
As its economy lags behind, Europe is becoming more divided politically. Brexit negotiations have inflamed tempers on both sides of the English Channel; Central European countries like Hungary and Poland are alienated from the West; much of Southern Europe remains bitter about the aftermath of the euro crisis; and anti-EU political parties continue to gain support across the bloc. A recent report from the European Council on Foreign Relations projects that anti-EU parties from the right and left are on course to control enough seats in the next European Parliament that they will be able to disrupt the EU and weaken it further. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The EU was founded to stop Europe’s decline, not reflect it.
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