Sluggish growth, an ageing population and a refugee crisis - will the union survive?by Niall Ferguson / October 15, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
There is a paradox at the heart of the new “Völkerwanderung,” the mass movement into Europe of people from all over North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. From the outside Europe looks alluringly beautiful. But from the inside it is ugly, like one of those grand old Prussian or Polish manor houses that were turned into shabby workers’ sanitoriums under the communists.
The great migration of 2015 makes it clear that the European Union (EU) is an attractive destination for hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of people. It is so attractive that since January this year, 2,600 people have died crossing the Mediterranean trying to enter the EU. Yet, viewed from the inside, Europe looks a mess. The European economy seems much closer to “secular stagnation”—in Larry Summers’s phrase—than the United States economy. European politics is also in disarray. In almost every member state there is at least one populist party, and nearly all of them are deeply hostile to immigration.
No doubt, many forms of euroscepticism are unpleasant. But that is not to say that euroscepticism is all unwarranted.
Institutionally, European integration is an incom…