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Opening Pandora’s Box: Nationalism May Trigger EU’s Swift Disintegration

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The “temptation of nationalism” may trigger EU member states to seek independence from Brussels and eventually “repatriate power” to their capitals, dealing a lethal blow to the European Union’s system, Stratfor notes.

 According a forecast by Stratfor, a private US intelligence company, a loss of economic prosperity within the EU accompanied by resurgent nationalism and widespread Euroskepticism is likely to prompt some states to “repatriate power” from Brussels to their national capitals, leading to the ultimate collapse of the multi-national organization.

“[T]he European project is in its deepest crisis. The economic turmoil that began in 2009 and produced the Eurozone crisis has awakened nationalist instincts that undermine pan-Europeanism. These centrifugal forces have always been present and, historically, led some members to opt out of certain initiatives. The key difference in 2015, however, is that nations will choose to backpedal on integration — a first in EU history,” Stratfor’s analysts elaborated.

The European Union has been always viewed as an attempt to create a unified transnational organization pursuing the goals of peace and economic prosperity in the region. However, since the very beginning, the organization has suffered from the contest between nationalism and pan-Europeanism.

The global financial crisis of 2008 substantially undermined the positions of the EU integration proponents within Europe’s national governments. Furthermore, the crisis exposed a number of serious problems caused by integration, particularly that Economic and Monetary Union “had made it impossible for member states to adjust their individual monetary policies,” the analysts pointed out.

The EU’s dire economic situation lent weight to the arguments of Euroskeptics and facilitated their victory in European elections in several member states in May 2014. Remarkably, a year later, in May 2015, British Prime Minister Cameron announced plans to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2016.

“Unlike previous drives for national sovereignty, the current wave will actively bring power back to the states instead of simply exempting them from further European integration. This time, the United Kingdom is directly challenging existing policies and EU principles,” the Stratfor report stated.

The analysts stressed that London’s move will open Pandora’s Box, encouraging other member states to seek more independence from Brussels.

Meanwhile, in light of the current economic recession, as well as the sharp influx in refugees from Africa and the Middle East, the EU’s core principles – free trade and the free movement of peoples – have come under heavy criticism from the European Union member states, and even from France, one of the EU’s founding members.

According to Stratfor, Brussels should carry out serious but unpopular structural reforms, aimed at bolstering the union’s economy in the long run and preventing it from disintegration. He who hesitates is lost, warned the analysts.

“In the meantime, the temptation of nationalism will influence member states to confront Brussels and repatriate power to their capitals, ultimately meaning the death of the European Union,” the Stratfor report emphasized.