This year has marked six decades since the creation of the European integration project. However, what should have been a celebratory moment for the long effort to construct a solid European community turned out to be a more cautious affair, especially after the Brexit backlash. Less than a century ago, Edmund Husserl’s warning words about Europe were more than farsighted: ‘the gravest danger menacing Europe is its lassitude’. The EU needs now more than ever a strong and united leadership to steer the bloc towards protecting the legacy of a community of post-security against the backdrop of a number of both internal and external challenges. The most worrying fact is that there are indicative signs that the European integration project is no longer a strong enough instrument capable of shielding the EU from its own populist and traditional power-politics past.
The recent migration waves from war-torn areas have undoubtedly triggered an array of tensions and dilemmas within the EU, which in turn rekindled feelings of insecurity and have provided fuel to exclusionary and populist-oriented politics. There is an undisputable resurgence of nationalist rhetoric in major European countries, where virulent demagogues and fear-peddlers the likes of Le Pen, Wilders, Farage, Zeman, Fico, Orbán or Hofer capitalize on popular fears and threat perceptions. They skilfully link the economic hardships of the EU’s own brand of neoliberalism and the failures of late capitalism to the perils of terrorism and the insecurities caused by the migration flows. One is left baffled of how, after more than twenty-five years since the end of the Cold War, democratization efforts are disintegrating at a fast pace and the ghost of populism is still haunting Europe.