For now, the outcome of the French election has spared the European Union another crucial test. But it’s too early to sound the all clear. In fact, the cohesion and stability of the EU will likely be put to the test again and again in the coming years. And it isn’t only the euro-skeptic parties with strong bastions in many countries that pose a challenge to the European Union. Nationalist tendencies in some member states also pose a problem.
Is the EU up to these challenges? In Germany, there is growing skepticism that it is. The overwhelming majority of citizens are under the impression that many member states are increasingly putting their national interests first, even at the cost of the European community.
This growing concentration of national interests amplifies the centrifugal forces in the union, because there is only limited overlap among individual national interests. Some 59 percent of Germans believe that antagonisms and divergent interests currently shape the inner workings of the European Union. Only 24 percent say that EU countries mostly have common interests, according to a recent survey by the research institute Allensbach.