The happiest people live in? Europe. The cities most worth living in are in? Europe. The best health care is in? Europe. The most publicly listed companies and the most Olympic champions come from? Yes, you guessed it: Europe. Only one thing has been missing in Europe recently: Self-confidence.
Tired, old, worn out – that was the image many Europeans had of their continent. Tired, old, worn out was how most speeches about the E.U. sounded. But since Donald Trump began governing on the other side of the Atlantic and putting to question what the United States stands for – from free trade to the rule of law – something has changed in Europe as well. With nationalists and populists on this Atlantic coast threatening intrinsic European values, the counter-forces have been growing.
It can be felt in Berlin, Vienna or Lisbon, where each weekend, thousands take to the streets to celebrate Europe.
It can be heard in the speeches of European politicians, whose tone toward the E.U. has suddenly changed.
It can be seen in the economic upturn that is currently happening on the continent.
Right after having been written off, Europe is suddenly an option once again. Not as a blast from the past, but a promise for the future; an alternative to the USA and to the authoritarian rulers closer to home,from Moscow to Ankara. The existential necessity of the E.U. must no longer be explained and, all at once, it has become intuitively obvious. It is like a reestablishment of Europe.