This year’s Report on the State of the European Union (2015-16) examines the delicate
political situation currently faced by the EU, a complex combination of events that has
revealed its underlying weakness as a supranational organisation with historic ambitions.
After a 20
century that was largely propitious for a European Community that rose from
the ashes of the two World Wars, the start of the 21
century has been marked by an
air of frustration and pessimism. Moreover, it is those who were most strongly in favour
of the European project and most firmly convinced of the importance, benefits and direc-
tion of the EU whose ideals have been hardest hit by the crisis. Yet they are also best
equipped to keep fighting to preserve the values of the world’s most democratic continent.
The contributions to this report examine the reasons why these values, fundamentally
based on the welfare state and the rule of law, have been and continue to be severely
affected by the critical situation facing the EU in 2016.
There can be no doubt that the EU has reached a crossroads, a moment of unpreceden-
ted political challenge. What we are facing is more than an economic crisis, or a refu-
gee or security crisis. These are merely the effects, albeit extremely serious ones. What
makes them critical is the EU’s failure to provide a credible response. Such a response is
not beyond the realms of possibility.