Aug 3, 2017
Looking at things from this side of the Atlantic, it is easy to think of Europe as a single, united entity. Seen up close it's not so clear. National identity keeps getting in the way.
French, German, Italian, Polish, and so on – those ancient identities still matter to many people. As arguably they should.
National identity bestows a sense of rootedness and continuity that the new European institutions apparently haven't been able to supply up to now. A case in point: last year's Brexit vote in Great Britain, shocking to the pundits, which took the country out of the European Union (or, more precisely, set that process in motion). Being English, it seems, still counts for more with the English than being European does.
Religious identity is also part of the equation – today, a disputed one. This relationship once seemed overwhelmingly clear to someone like the Catholic apologist Hilaire Belloc, who famously wrote: "Europe will return to the Faith, or she will perish. The Faith is Europe, and Europe is the Faith."