BERLIN - From a European perspective, 2019 promised to be another difficult year, dominated by a large challenges that could easily turn into menacing crises.

Barring a major reversal, the United Kingdom will withdraw from the European Union on March 29. A brewing economic and financial crisis in Italy will intensify, threatening the stability of eurozone.

And France will likely remain beset by populist protests, diminishing its potential to take a lead role in the pursuit of  EU-level reforms.

Moreover, the European parliament election in May could deliver a nationalist majority or near-majority, which would then determine the next members of the European Commission, the leaders of the Council and European Central Bank and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy,.

Needless to say, a nationalist victory would be a disaster for the EU, because it would derail necessary reforms and further divide member states.

Whatever happens, Europe's internal political drama will play out against a backdrop of international turmoil.

At the same time that Russia is stepping up its aggression in eastern Ukraine, US President Donald Trump is waging a trade war against China, and could expand it to the EU, which he has deemed a ''foe''.

And more broadly, the global economy is weakening, and growth will continue to slow in the months ahead.

In the face of these foreseeable challenges, the survival of the European project itself is at stake. As far as Brexit is concerned, much will depend on whether the UK's withdrawal occurs in an orderly or chaotic fashion

In the latter case, there would be losers all around, and UK - EU relations could be poisoned for a long time to come.

No one other side of the English Channel should wish for this outcome. Life goes on after divorce, and it is generally in the interest of both sides to maintain a healthy relationship.

One hopes that common sense prevails.

The honor and serving of the latest Operational Research on Europe's year of living defensively,  continues. The World Students Society thanks author and researcher Joschka Fischer.


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