First, the crisis of 2010 and probably of 2011. A financial sector seeking ever greater returns gambles the house away; must be rescued from ruin at enormous expense; bets that its saviour will go bust, driving up that same saviour's borrowing costs and working to turn its bet into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The nightmare economics our current EU leaders have to live with are challenging enough to be a full-time job. But there is more in their in-tray.

The moment of truth when it becomes undeniable that the only way to end Europe's war in Afghanistan is to pull out - at the risk of an ignominious Taliban take-over - is drawing near.

Climate change, so scientists warn us, requires action as the catastrophic tipping-point moves nearer.

And while the EU and the US battle the consequences of their foolish choice to unshackle the financial sector, other parts of the world are accruing wealth and the power that comes with money, ambition and demography.

Oh yes, and there is terrorism; a daunting demography; a difficult migration and integration issue; and in parts of the electorate a willingness to look for harsh and destabilising solutions to the latter challenge.

One should pity our leaders, were it not that they have freely applied for the job. They owe us answers; what could they be?

If there is one lesson to draw from the great crisis of 2010, it is that the fragmentation of the EU into member states does not work when it comes to addressing the main challenges of the day.

It is worth remembering that the European nation state has emerged quite recently in historic terms, that it has taken centuries to build, and that it peaked in the first half of the 20th century - which is when it became fully apparent that "nationalism means war," as Francois Mitterrand put it.

Younger generations no longer buy into this warning, or so we are told. So let us consider simple practicalities. Managing the European economy and supervising financial services. Deciding what to do in Afghanistan. Negotiating global policies against the acceleration of climate change. Getting China to take our priorities into account. Reducing terrorism. Finding answers to the demographic challenge. Dealing better with migration. In all these instances, we know that most European efforts are useless unless they are part of a joint European answer - one that must be more than the...

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