On Friday, the heads of government from the European Union met one of their fiercest critics in Rome: the Pope.
The pope has repeatedly castigated the E.U., commenting a year ago on receiving the Charlemagne Prize that Europe seemed “not fruitful and vital” but “tired and aged.”
He had used a past appearance before the European Parliament to describe the E.U. as a “grandmother.” Apparently, his comparison rankled with Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite her famous thick skin.
On Friday evening, Pope Francis will most likely not be as hard on the Europeans. He doesn’t need to. Now, there are more and more signs the E.U. is awakening from and confronting backward-looking nationalist more boldly than in the past.
With Emmanuel Macron, France finally has a promising presidential candidate who voices energetic support for the E.U. and isn’t giving up in the face of the europhobic National Front. It is also noteworthy that Germany’s foreign minister has spoken out in favor of improved financing for the E.U. Up to now, Sigmar Gabriel didn’t appear to be a great fan of the institution.
It could well be that the upcoming sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaty could send out a genuine signal of renewed momentum.