And they didnít fall down
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Not responding forcefully enough to these misnomers, the EU was continually described as a caricature of itself. Its critics saw it as a trading bloc, comprised of greedy and irresponsible member states that could not get their act together. It was as if the only glue holding Europe together was a failing currency. Europe is much more than this. It is a robust union of 27 member states that constitute the largest economy in the world, and one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment. Its members cooperate on a vast array of issues, from climate change to security, defence and development aid. The EU's collective ability to agree to new and groundbreaking policies is unparalleled. This is why, in the midst of a serious existential crisis, the policies agreed to in Brussels were numerous and complex: a European fiscal compact, a European stability mechanism, a banking union, new transparency rules and so on.
European leaders were, for too long, nearly mute in response to the euro-bashing. In the face of this, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU seemed almost surreal.
The third lesson is the biggest of all: the EU is here to stay. Facing its toughest challenge to date, the EU came out of the crisis stronger than ever. When fully implemented, the EU will approach fiscal federalism. This will contribute to its ongoing evolution towards EU federalism in a broader sense. The 2009 Lisbon Treaty, temporarily sidetracked during the crisis, represents renewed integration in the political, security and foreign policy arenas. In 2013, attention will turn to such important innovations as the European External Action Service, the first supranational diplomatic service of its kind. This should provide a means for Europe to strengthen its image.
Over the short term, the British have threatened to leave the EU, or at least to renegotiate the terms of their membership. This is unlikely to happen. Not only would a departure from the EU severely weaken the UK's role in the region, and thus in the world, but British business interests are beginning to stir in opposition to Prime Minister David Cameron's anti-EU rhetoric. There is no question that the British are far stronger economically and more influential politically in the EU than outside of it.
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