Jacques Rupnik

Parallels between May ’68 and the Prague Spring are largely the result of the simultaneity of the events; in important respects, the political goals of the two movements were antithetical. Nevertheless, central European dissent had a significant impact on the French anti-totalitarian Left after 1968, argues Jacques Rupnik.

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26 March 2007

Anatomy of a crisis

The rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005 evoked fears of dilution and fragmentation of the EU as a result of increasing decentralisation. In the worst-case scenario, Europe would be divided and increasingly unstable, ruled by a wide range of ad hoc coalitions but devoid of any real plan. A more reassuring view holds that the EU has finally got rid of the myth of political union, the age-old chimera for European federalists. Jacques Rupnik analyses the underlying factors and possible consequences of the crisis of the European project.

The Kosovo war should force the European Union to rethink its future. As the new commission, chaired by Romano Prodi, takes over it should seize the opportunity to move the EU from an inward-looking institution consumed with an economic agenda to an all-European political project.

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Directly after the fall of communism, hopes burgeoned for democracy and capitalism in a “new” Eastern Central Europe. What does the current climate of populism, and in many cases an accompanying extremist nationalism, mean for these hopes? How does it affect these countries’ relations with the EU? The apprehension and opposition towards European integration that populist movements share could make current EU member states even more resistant to extending further east and could erode the political bonds within the EU. Although the EU has experienced populism before without toppling, just how far can its “absorption capacity” stretch?