The EU27 is faced with a series of long-term challenges which, combined with Brexit, are causing “a lot of friction beneath the surface”, experts from Stratfor warned.
And one of the geopolitcal firm’s specialists claimed the only way Brussels would realise its dream of a United States of Europe would be if the bloc “removed three-quarters of its members”.
Speaking during a rundown of the “top geopolitical risks for 2018”, expert Rodger Baker said the EU was moving towards “disintegration”, despite hopes from some of its key figures for closer cooperation between members.
Asked by Express.co.uk if the rise of Eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties in countries such as Italy, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic could destabilise the bloc, Mr Baker said the tension would not result in “the collapse of the EU”.
EU news: A geopolitics consultancy has predicted the bloc’s dreams of further integration are dead
It wouldn’t be beyond the pale to see in the next three to five years to see somebody else leave the European Union
But he admitted the dream of a superstate is in breakdown.
Mr Baker said: “What you do see is that the dream towards the multi-state entity that truly subsumes the concept of sates underneath it is really going to start dissipating and we are seeing it break down.
“It wouldn’t be beyond the pale to see in the next three to five years to see somebody else leave the European Union.
“We don’t in the long term expect to see the entity disappear, but certainly its dream of extreme tighter integration, unless it removes three-quarters of its members, is probably not going to happen.”
Mr Baker, vice president of strategic analysis at Stratfor, said ever since the 2008 financial crisis, the bloc has been pulled in different directions by “two countervailing forces”.
He said: “One is those who still are holding that dream of removing the idea of nation, for idealistic purposes or this long-term dream that was the path you were going on, and they are pushing for that tighter integration right now.
“But the reality that underlies it, from the ability to set national fiscal policy to different social norms to longstanding views of self-identification and nationalism, these are those countervailing forces we are seeing.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt are just some of the key EU figures who have expressed their desires for greater integration between member states.
Rodger Baker said the dream of a superstate is breaking down
Delivering his vision for the future of the bloc in September, Mr Juncker revealed ambitious plans more cooperation over finance, the creation of a fund to bail out struggling economies and a European defence force.
But Reva Goujon, Stratfor’s vice president of global analysis, said East-West tensions within the bloc, as well as differences between Germany and France, would only serve to hinder these plans.
And she said the rise of anti-establishment parties across Central and Eastern European nations would result in more conflict with Brussels.
However, Ms Goujon added many of those nations were so reliant on EU funds for development, it would be extremely unlikely for them to leave.
Reva Goujon said Eastern EU nations would be unlikely to leave the bloc
She said: “So they’re not going to follow through with any threats to leave.
“But because we see a divergence in interests over other issues, how they want to manage press freedoms and judiciary independence, that’s just going to add to that East-West tension even if it doesn’t lead to a break.
“We will see parties leverage this threat towards the priority of trying to renegotiate fiscal terms within the European core, but not something that is necessarily going to cause that big fissure.”