When, in 2003, some 78 percent of Czechs voted in in favor of joining the European Union, the mood in the country was optimistic. The country's economy had shown impressive growth rates; foreign investment had been booming. Joining the EU on May 1, 2004, was seen as a symbolic step underlining successful reforms that had been adopted during the process of accession. On the 10th anniversary of accession, the mood is far less optimistic. According to the latest surveys, about two-thirds of Czechs do not trust the EU, citing too much bureaucracy and overregulation as the main problems of the EU.
The EU must think carefully about where it goes from here, how it reconnects with its citizens' concerns, and how it can better realize its ideals in a changing world. Complacency about the far right's showing, on the grounds that there remains a pro-European majority, is dangerous. Even ardent supporters of Europe think there must be change. In an increasingly multipolar world, in which GDP and population will increasingly be correlated, the rationale for Europe is stronger than ever. Together, Europe's peoples can wield genuine influence. Alone, they will over time decline in relative importance. The 21st century world order will be dramatically different from that of the 20th century. The rationale for Europe today is not peace; it is power.
Egypt's next president could not have made himself clearer. In a two-hour television interview that marked the start and mostly likely the end, too, of his election campaign, the former general who led the military coup declared the sole purpose of his presidency would be to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood -- once and for all.
For 30 years, I have advocated accepting Turkey into the European Union, once the country has fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria: institutional stability as a guarantee of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and minority rights, a functioning market economy, and finally the pledge to embrace the goals of the political, economic and monetary union. If Erdogan continues as he has over the past two years, he will not fulfill these criteria. There is no place in the European Union for this Turkey.
What the world is now witnessing in Ukraine is a political struggle between two different visions of modernity, good governance and a decent society. It is an echo, 20 years later, of what happened in 1989 and thereafter in many Warsaw Pact countries. They are now mostly members of the European Union and of NATO, living proof that history is not destiny. There is no reason why it could not happen now in Ukraine, in Russia. . .and elsewhere. The choice is for Ukrainians, Russians and others to make. But Europe and the United States should be there to help.
ZURICH, Switzerland - On Feb. 9, the Swiss voted to introduce a quota system to cap immigration from European Union countries. The EU has responded quickly and unequivocally: Without the free movement of persons, Switzerland risks losing access to EU markets and institutions that help fuel a large part of the Swiss economy. In the few weeks since the referendum, Switzerland has already gotten a taste of the costs that increasing isolation brings.