The European Union's greatest achievement is also the one we take most for granted. After Europe was repeatedly torn asunder by aggressive expansionist regimes, the EU played a vital role in healing the wounds and insuring that common values and ever-increasing interdependency made war within its borders inconceivable.
Over the decades the EU has had a magnetic pull on its neighbours. Indeed, it was Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to discard a deal with the EU for a subvention from Moscow that ignited the current tragic events in Ukraine. The EU has grown rapidly from six to 28 members (13 in the last decade alone), the vast majority of which now use the same currency. But mastery of soft power has not been mirrored by a comparable rise in hard power. The EU’s common security and defence capabilities are still very much in the embryonic stages. It has few military muscles to flex other than those under the direct control of its member states and, consequently, is unable to take decisive military action beyond its borders.