The failure of soft power: This had to happen, said Hubert Védrine: despite its spectacular successes, it was inevitable that reality would catch up to this idealistic, and peremptory and somewhat artificial, construct.
Its internal and external fragilities run deep.
Internally, the driving will of most elites, right or left, has kept the project on track for decades, in the “interest of the people” but without the people having any input aside from sporadic consultations. As a result, the construction of Europe has been stirring up increasing passive or active resistance for more than twenty years. Referendums scraped through or were lost, while abstention rates to the European parliament averaged 60%. The disconnect is obvious.
However, the paternalist authoritarian line of the Europhiles remained unshakeable. Europe can only move forward - historical destiny, progress, keep moving or die. The answer was always “more Europe”, have the courage to “take a federal leap”, overcome “national egotism” (whatever became of national interests?). The big sin was to “turn in on yourself”, hence the constant and confident expansion of Schengen with no real control at its external borders.
Laws and treaties rejected by referendums were pushed through parliaments, including the constitution/Lisbon treaty and people were sent back to vote again until they got the right answer, undermining faith in democracy.