Macron and Merkel at the NATO Summit in Brussels, July 2018.
Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

The European Union has always struggled to accommodate the democratic politics of its members. The problem became serious in 1999, with the creation of a currency union without an accompanying political and fiscal union. Then, beginning in 2011, the eurozone sovereign debt crisis turned what had been a real but manageable issue into a predicament from which the EU has no discernible escape. Stuck with an unworkable currency union, the EU can neither accommodate democracy in its member states nor suppress it. The result is likely to be the continuation of the pattern over the last decade: crisis after crisis with no lasting solution.


The confrontation between the Italian government and the eurozone authorities over the size of the Italian budget deficit is the latest example of the EU’s inability to cope with democracy. Both parties in the Italian coalition government, the Lega and the Five Star Movement, made tax and

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