Leaders of opinion, commerce and government generally agree that the Continent could benefit from greater political unity, since globalization favors continental blocs. But the nations and peoples of Europe would have to give up great areas of sovereignty, and nothing has prepared them for this. At the rate things are going, if Europeans are asked to push for unity, they will refuse.

For that reason, Europe must find a new idea, a new vision, a mortar for the future. Familiar lofty principles will not be enough. The rights of man, pluralism, freedom of thought, free-market social democracy — all are in the nations’ constitutions; citizens don’t need the European Union to supply them.