European unity might still be doomed
Everything has changed and nothing stays the same, to paraphrase the well-known French saying: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Suddenly, there is a spring in the European integrationist’s step. Politicians are openly talking about more EU integration — including a common minister of finance. Popular support for the European Union is rising. The words of the preamble of the Treaty of Rome of “an ever closer Union” no longer seem anachronistic.
So is the European train back on the federalist tracks? Not quite. While Emmanuel Macron’s success in France — and similar developments in Germany and the Netherlands — suggest a growing support for more EU, things are different in other parts of the alliance.
In fact, the growing support for more European integration appears geographically limited to the original six members of the European Economic Communities (Germany, France, Benelux and more ambiguously Italy).
Elsewhere in Europe, there is a bewildering array of trends on display.
So, with only week to go before the British begin their divorce proceedings, the EU Theresa May is facing across the negotiating table is far from united, let alone going in the same direction.
Much as the election of Macron and the success of La République en marche in the French parliamentary election suggest a new appetite for an “ever closer union,” the EU is as disunited as ever.
The many differing positions alongside the far from clear position of the British government makes outcome of the Brexit negotiations unpredictable — and the future of the European Union — very uncertain indeed.