To the west of Eurasia lays Europe, a region predisposed to division. It is surrounded on nearly all sides by islands and peninsulas that make it difficult for Europe to cohere. The northern half of the continent, moreover, sits on a plain whose short, meandering rivers tend to empower countries without forcing them to work with others. The southern half is situated on more mountainous terrain that has historically impeded the creation of strong, unified economies. As a result, Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.
Sep 28, 2017 | 13:56 GMT
Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.
As EU members discuss institutional reforms, they will expose the strategic differences between the bloc's southern, northern and eastern members and offer a preview of disagreements to come next year.
Germany and France will try to preserve their strategic alliance throughout the discussions, which will cover issues such as reforming the eurozone and increasing spending across the bloc, but compromise will be difficult.
Central and Eastern European countries will face strategic decisions about their futures, while elections in Austria and the Czech Republic will test the strength of nationalist sentiments.
France's efforts to protect national economies from competition within the bloc and to prevent outside investors from acquiring companies in strategic sectors will meet with only limited success.
Differences will continue to arise between the United Kingdom and the European Union as the two negotiate the Brexit, but both parties will work to reach an agreement, even if it takes longer than expected.