Europe is about to have its hardest winter since the 1970s. The European Union specifically is at risk of experiencing serious economic and political upheaval.
One of the main uses of gas is the heating of homes in the EU, so on the current trajectory the EU is in with Russia, this might just cause a serious crunch among the electorate.
We saw this most recently in Prague, where approximately 70,000 or so mobilized in its historic Wenceslas Square, to protest against the Czech government, at the helm with the political scientist turned Prime Minister, Petr Fiala.
Presently, estimates suggest that the EU is bound to have a 2% recession in GDP. How will this impact the average EU citizen’s position on Putin? Well, he might have just started winning many over to moral ambivalence. But there is a silver lining: Putin’s position is increasingly precarious in Russia.
The Czechs were directly protesting against having sanctions against the Russians that lead to energy cutbacks. Inflation is rampant. People’s savings are threatened. And uncertainty lurks.
Similar protests have erupted in France (no surprise there, to be honest) and Spain. The former Deputy Prime Minister of Spain went so far to say:
“European citizens are going to have to continue paying for a social fracture that is too high for the very stability of the European Union.”
Is it true that Europeans are paying for the stability of the EU? They might be, but recession at this point is inevitable. Indeed, this could be the most expensive winter households experience of their lifetimes (some estimates put us at a trajectory of spending 3 or 4 times as much in Europe than in typical winters).
But the EU has faced similar threats to its existence before. And we have managed to survive.
The EU’s Troubles & the Larger Emblematic Issue at Play
Angela Merkel’s “open border” policy toward refugees fleeing war-torn Syria in 2015 is one of them. And don’t misunderstand me. There are aspects of the migration policy that were flawed. Most importantly, it inarguably contributed to anti-immigrant sentimentality in Europe.