Niall Ferguson: The European Union Is Doomed

Roundup: Historians' Take

Niall Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard University, is most recently the author of Civilization: The West and the Rest.

European politics has become a giant Jenga game. Since June 2010 governments have fallen in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece and Italy.

The question is not: Who will be next? That’s easy. (Spain’s Socialist government will be pulverized in this weekend’s elections.) The real question is: When will the Jenga tower topple?

Many people assume that the tipping point will come when one country — most likely Greece — leaves or is ejected from Europe’s monetary union. But the scenario that worries Eurocrats is different. They fear that a country could leave the European Union itself.

This is by no means an irrational anxiety. Under E.U. law, it would be much easier for Britain to leave the European Union than for Greece to leave the euro zone.

Thus the process of European integration has reached a richly ironic point: The breakdown of the European Union is now more likely than the collapse of the single currency that was supposed to bind it together.

This is not surprising…

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