“The events of tonight are a turning point in the history of Europe ... They will have lasting, profound consequences on our lives and on the geopolitics of our continent” - Emmanuel Macron, 24 February 2022.
For once, this was not Élysée hyperbole. Giant leaps in the development of the European Union come from crises like the end of the continent's 40-year partition in 1989-91, and the successive solvency tests in 2010-12, 2015, 2018, and 2020. The first delivered the single market, the euro, and the European Central Bank; the second produced previously unthinkable sovereign bailouts, a €4-trillion expansion of the ECB's balance sheet, and the creation of a €750-billion pandemic-recovery fund.
The latest shock - Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine - has provoked a midlife crisis for the EU and its core member states. "Rather than enemies, Europeans thought they had partners, competitors or at worst rivals," says Štefan Auer. "The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced an abrupt re-evaluation of this view".
The EU, Germany, and France are rethinking their strategic and military doctrines from first principles as central, eastern, and Nordic members rush to the US for a security guarantee that would be removed by a second America First presidency. The pivotal intra-EU diplomatic relationship has switched from north/south to west/east, from economic convergence to security and more muscular liberalism, and from "deepening" to a "widening" extending now to Ukraine and the Caucuses. War (and Covid) have upended a 25-year fiscal settlement and are even triggering a reassessment of the arms-length associations with the UK and Switzerland.
The twenty4two newsletter from Tim Gwynn Jones is devoted to analysing this "turning point" for Europe. As a journalist and policy analyst, Tim has covered EU politics and economic policy for over 30 years. Subscribe (free) to get automatic updates to the newsletter and podcasts as they are published.
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