Geopolitical tensions across the European Union are cresting as 2017 comes to a close. The most important global issue to watch in 2018 may be whether the New Year brings resolution and harmony – or further fracturing of the world’s largest trading bloc and political community.
The tension is largely being driven by the rise of populist nationalism that is now threatening the political character of Europe, long the center of gravity of the democratic community of nations. As Peter Wehner and I wrote in the Call-to-Action Paper cited by President Bush in his October 19 speech in New York City, The Spirit of Liberty; At Home, In the World,
Europe, in particular, is in deep crisis. While “the West” is more about values and institutions than it is about geography, there is no democratic “West” without Western Europe. … [Yet] five years after the European Union was awarded the Nobel Prize for its historic achievement of banishing war from a war-torn continent, the EU and its leaders seem to have lost their sense of direction.