Germany recently marked the 20th anniversary of its unification. The anniversary recalls a time of heady optimism about European integration when far-sighted leaders like then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and then-French President Francois Mitterand spearheaded the creation of the European Union on the heels of German unity.
Today, the outlook for Europe's future is decidedly pessimistic. The crisis in the euro zone has laid bare a few disquieting facts: European leaders lack the ambitious vision that once propelled continental integration, states no longer see European interests as parallel to national interests and the EU's political and economic institutions are inadequate to the challenges of economic and monetary union. There is a paradox at the heart of Europe's conundrum: Even as the European appetite for integration reaches its nadir, the best solution to the crisis may be greater unity.
With the EU mired in crisis -- from demonstrations in French streets to Irish bank bailouts--strong leadership from European capitals is more important than ever. Unfortunately, the EU suffers from a leadership void. Rather than stepping up to the plate on behalf of the union, however, national leaders are focused on appeasing domestic constituencies. In Brussels, no Jacques Delors promises to emerge.