Jan 22, 4:18 PM |
By Sam Aman
Writing in El País, Altamar co-host Muni Jensen takes a close look at Europe and the underlying causes of disaffection across a continent that should, ostensibly, be doing quite well:
Though it’s not helping much to calm the storm, Europe seems to have recovered from the economic crisis that began in 2008. For the first time in years, the EU is forecasted to grow by 2.4 percent, a bit higher than the US. Unemployment, which has been a key driver of social unrest, has fallen to 8.7 percent, though some countries, like Spain, still have higher rates. There are signs of recovery in the markets, growth across companies, and an end to a long recession.
And yet, Europeans – especially youths – don’t believe in the promises coming out of Brussels. They remain unsatisfied with a governing class seen as corrupt and out of touch, and they reject the waves of foreigners occupying Europe’s streets and jobs. Their cellphones in hand, they become easy targets for those who promise radical change, a rupture from the system, and an end to an exploitative “establishment.”
Merkel, Macron, and May – leaders who still uphold some notion of the center – and EU bureaucrats would do well to listen to these voices of discontent and implement needed reforms to the project of the Old Continent, to adapt it to the current times and create modern, effective mechanisms of representation.
Peter Schechter works in both politics and policy. He served as the Atlantic Council’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives and previously co-founded a premier strategic communications company, working as a political campaign advisor in more than 20 countries. Muni Jensen is a former Colombian diplomat, columnist, and television political commentator.