Economic sluggishness and political paralysis are characteristic of the European Union. Is it any wonder tensions are rising across the continent?
European nations are still struggling with the pressures the EU places upon them. With a combination of economic stagnation, cynicism towards Brussels politicians, and xenophobia towards neighbours, such a dangerous combination should be treated with concern.
During the time of David Cameron's so called renegotiations, one would hope the EU elites would respond with a common sense view in which 'ever closer union' will never have consent of the people.
Forcing the diversity of the continent into one federal superstate appears to be a bizarre way of keeping a peaceful Europe afloat. A fundamental shift in how the federalists view Europe is needed, but it remains a very tall order to this day. Fixed on the ideology of giant economic blocs battling it out to be on top of the world, they have fallen into the trap in which one naively believes 'bigger is better'. If this was the case, the wealthiest nations on Earth per capita would not include small countries like Singapore, Norway, and Switzerland.
This is woefully outdated thinking, which ignores the onset of globalisation during the 1980s. Many forget the origins of the European Economic Community were forged under a very different context - the historical shame of the Second World War and economic sense to pool resources in order to rebuild.
In addition, the EU's failure of vision affects people culturally as well as financially. It should not be forgotten there was always a political aspect. The effort to force federalist system between the peoples of Europe was there right from the get-go in 1957, and we have seen dire consequences ever since.
EU elites are stunned by the current rise of nationalist and populist political parties, but what did they expect? With grinding austerity from the ill-fated Euro crisis (thank goodness we did not join the Single Currency), porous borders, and loss of national identity into some distant 'Euro' ideal, it does not take a political scientist to understand why illiberal populism has become an increasingly attractive option.
Now the EU bureaucratic elite must reap what they sow. The common thread is clear. The latest rise of the Front National in France is no exception. Elsewhere, one in five support the far right Jobbik party in Hungary, and the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have also ridden on a wave of popularity after migration pressures were deemed too much to bear. Most worryingly of all was the rise of the fascist and anti-semitic Golden Dawn party in Greece, which showed how mainstream complacency with Brussels will force people to go down extreme paths.
Put bluntly, the political delusion from Euro federalists caused this. These are just the latest examples but plenty more across the continent are to be found. Extremist parties have been steadily on the rise precisely because of the EU, not in spite of it.
Whether such parties' concerns stem from nationalism, mass migration, or austerity is only part of the question. The real implications point toward the naive policies coming out of Brussels and mainstream parties kicking controversial subjects into the long grass.
If the founders of the EU had any foresight, the institution would have remained a purely economic organisation, and not one which feels the need to have its own parliament, flag and anthem.
Stowed away in their ivory tower, Brussels' bureaucrats appear completely oblivious to the problems facing ordinary people. From the economic pressures of freedom of movement, security fears within the borderless Schengen Zone and the bureaucratic meddling on people's livelihoods, it's astonishing the integrationist agenda is still being pursued.
The EU has given rise to the politics of fear which has antagonised fellow neighbours. Europe is becoming a less hospitable place and only Brexit will force the federalist elites to rethink their European project. This is why we must Get Britain Out of the EU as soon as possible.