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The EU’s Four Challenges

Summary:
Whatever the next European Parliament's composition, the imperative will be the same: EU institutions must trade ambition for humility, focusing their attention not on their own power or status, but rather on upgrading and fortifying the project for which they claim to stand. If they fail, the road ahead will only become more perilous. MADRID – This year’s European Parliament election has spurred months of nail biting. Will the pro-European center hold? Will the body be too fractured to function? Will a vocal contingent of nationalist-populists disrupt every sitting? Europe’s Only Decision Norbert Kamil Kowaczek/EyeEm/Getty Images

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Whatever the next European Parliament's composition, the imperative will be the same: EU institutions must trade ambition for humility, focusing their attention not on their own power or status, but rather on upgrading and fortifying the project for which they claim to stand. If they fail, the road ahead will only become more perilous.

MADRID – This year’s European Parliament election has spurred months of nail biting. Will the pro-European center hold? Will the body be too fractured to function? Will a vocal contingent of nationalist-populists disrupt every sitting?

While important, discussion of these questions has missed the forest for the trees. Now that the election is finally here, Europe can stop obsessing about its possible outcome and focus on the real challenges ahead.

The first challenge is the coming economic downturn. A decade after the financial crisis upended Europe’s economy, throwing its politics and social model into disarray, average annual growth remains a sluggish 1.5%. And there are strong signals that worse is to come: debt levels are...

Ana Palacio
Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, is a member of the Spanish Council of State, a visiting lecturer at Georgetown University, and a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the United States.

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