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Only a decade ago, Europe was still heralded by supporters as a model for the world’s future. It was like Walt Disney’s original version of EPCOT writ large, the argument ran—an Experimental Prototype Continent of Tomorrow.
That was then. After a decade of economic crises and political turmoil, stalled halfway between national and regional sovereignty, Europe is no longer sailing proudly forward but drifting aimlessly close to dangerous shoals. The main risks to the continent now are political, with crucial elections approaching that will determine whether the EU continues or abandons its quest for ever-greater collaboration and openness.
To provide intellectual context in this time of choosing, we offer this collection devoted to three of the continent’s crucial interlocking challenges—immigration, terrorism, and populist nationalism. Europe has absorbed large numbers of refugees from Syria and other countries in recent years, experienced repeated devastating terrorist attacks, and turned inward as a result. Foreign Affairs has been tracking each of these issues in real time, and we gather the best of our coverage here for handy reference.
In the end, Europe’s center should hold. Austria, France, and the Netherlands have gone up to the brink only to pull back—even with a foreign thumb on the scales trying to engineer different outcomes. Other countries may do the same. But should current extremist contenders fall short, the problems that helped fuel their rise will remain. And how those challenges are handled will be the story of Europe’s next chapter.