Anyone who has followed the internal politics of the European Union over the past few years will know that the bloc, which relies on unity and mutual appreciation of rules, has struggled to stay on the same page on several important issues. Petty spats between the leaders of the EU’s political institutions have led to critics saying that those at the top of the Brussels food chain are prioritizing their own careers and personal power over the lives of European citizens. As the Covid-19 pandemic approaches something resembling its end, and geopolitical challenges — such as the fallout from the crisis in Afghanistan — take hold, this open disunity presents the bloc with a series of fundamental problems to which there are no obvious solutions.
First things first: The Union itself is not facing extinction. The EU has remarkable staying power and the self-interest of its member states means there is no real chance of it falling apart any time soon. What is in question, however, is the Union’s long-term purpose and legitimacy. Last week, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote to the president of the EU Parliament, David Sassoli, declining to act on a resolution that had been passed by a huge majority in the EU’s legislative and only publicly elected body.