Caroline de Gruyter

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An Muslim imam, a Christian priest and two Jewish rabbis join a prayer calling for rain on November 11, 2010 in the West Bank village of Walajeh near Bethlehem. HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images

Something strange is going on with Israel, writes Elie Barnavi, a former Israeli ambassador to France and a prominent historian and writer, in his autobiography  Confessions d’un bon à rien: In less than a century his country “has gone through the entire sequence of European wars, but in reverse order”.

Barnavi’s book (which has not been translated into English) was published in 2022. He could not have known at the time that a furious war between Israel and Hamas would erupt in late 2023. Even so, his analysis of Israel getting involved in Europeans wars “but in reverse order” is perfectly applicable to the war now raging in Gaza.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leader of Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders during a meeting of populist far-right party leaders in Wenceslas Square on April 25, 2019 in Prague, Czech Republic. Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

On Nov. 22, Geert Wilders’s far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) won the most seats in the House of Representatives following national elections in the Netherlands. On the same day, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a keynote speech in Zürich at the invitation of the conservative magazine Die Weltwoche. The latter event offers a key to understanding the former. Orban offered a preview of what Wilders wants to do with Europe.

Wilders, who has earned the right to try to form a governing coalition with several center-right parties that have already rolled out the red carpet for him, has repeatedly said in the past that he wants to take his country out of the European Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks at a programmable humanoid robot during a visit to the AI Xperience Center in Brussels on Feb. 18, 2020. STEPHANIE LECOCQ/AFP via Getty Images

During her annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Sept. 13, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a little slip of the tongue. Halfway through the speech, she wanted to say “Honorable Members of Parliament”. Instead, she said “Honorable Member States”. Everybody laughed. So did she, briefly.

Yes, it was funny. And, in a way, also revealing. The Strasbourg speech marked the beginning of the fifth and last year of von der Leyen’s mandate. It is generally assumed that she will seek a second mandate. In order to get it, she needs to not only please as many political families represented in Parliament as possible but also, crucially, secure the support of all 27 European Union heads of state or government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flags of the European Union countries are gathered together ahead of the EU enlargement ceremony April 30, 2004 in Dublin, Ireland. Ian Waldie/Getty Images

In The Spirit of the Laws, published in 1748, the French philosopher Montesquieu argued that one of the main elements binding the Dutch provinces together was their resistance to the Spanish crown. Likewise, what unified Swiss cantons was resistance to the Holy Roman Empire.

A similar process is now underway in Europe as a result of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

In the latest Eurobarometer poll, released in January, 72 percent of citizens living in the European Union said that their country’s membership in the EU is beneficial. That is the highest score in a long time—the Eurobarometer has been asking the same question since 2005.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ursula von der Leyen ‘oversees the commission like a military operation’. Photograph: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

News magazines from Time to Austria’s Profil have put Volodymyr Zelenskiy on their covers as Person of the Year 2022. The business weekly Forbes’s choice was a little more surprising: naming Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, “the world’s most powerful woman”.

A good choice. After a weak start three years ago, the former German defence minister is becoming Europe’s crisis manager par excellence. With her somewhat formal, stiff demeanour, Von der Leyen may have won few hearts and minds, but during the pandemic, and especially since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, she has established a reputation for getting things done in Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob arrives at an EU Council meeting in Brussels on June 23. Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

At a June European Union summit meeting in Brussels, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob spoke for 15 minutes about Europe’s energy problems. This was remarkable, as it was his first European summit ever. Usually, newcomers mostly listen at first. If they speak at all, they keep it ultrashort.

Even more remarkable, Golob also spoke on behalf of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. He did it skillfully and with authority, diplomats said afterward. Before winning Slovenia’s elections in April with his new Freedom Movement party and forming a government in May, Golob, an electrical engineer, founded a successful energy trading company, GEN-I, and led it for many years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin at the International Libya conference in Berlin, Germany, January 2020. Photograph: Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA

The British government has taken the first steps to unravelling its agreement with the EU on Northern Ireland – the so-called Northern Ireland protocol. Many Europeans are baffled by this. How can the government – which not only signed this legal agreement but negotiated it “word by word, comma by comma”, to quote the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier – just tear up a binding international treaty that only came into force last year?

But surprised, they are not. Not really. Because in its relationship with the EU, the UK is increasingly starting to behave like Russia – by unilaterally creating facts on the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe Is in Danger. It Always Is.

In July 2020, along with European officials and experts, I was asked to take part in a policy game. Convened by a German think tank, we were asked to play out what would happen if either Matteo Salvini or Marine Le Pen, the far-right leaders in Italy and France, came to power. We spent a few hours frenziedly debating how the European Union would respond to each occurrence. Of one thing we were sure: It would be a disaster.

Neither scenario, of course, materialized. In Italy, Mario Draghi is prime minister and Mr. Salvini is sliding in the polls. In France, President Emmanuel Macron defeated Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Eu citizens queuing to vote in the European elections in Berlin. ‘Young audiences understand they have something to preserve. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

I’ll never forget my first visit to the European parliament, in 1986. I was a student from the Netherlands. MEPs from 12 member states were discussing a report on broadcasting policy – thick as a brick, full of jargon and endless footnotes – including proposals to break up national television channels, many of which enjoyed monopolies back then. For me, this was boring. All I cared about was funnelling it all into my thesis and graduating. For millions of people who spent hours in front of their TV it was potentially a huge issue – if only they’d known about it.…  Seguir leyendo »