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For American liberals, the European Union is a bastion of social justice, secular humanism, and civic virtue. Taxed gratefully into equality, its subjects spend their days recycling kefir containers and protecting the realm from genetically modified foods. Only this wise, collegial institution prevents a recrudescence of World War II. After Bush v. Gore and Trump, it’s to this land of milk and honey—or crème fraîche and Cointreau—that disgusted Democrats have threatened to decamp, although my compatriots rarely seem to go. That may be fortunate. Fantasies rarely survive close scrutiny.

For it’s more the case that the EU is a bloated bureaucracy packed with pampered timeservers inventing gratuitous regulations to justify their sinecures. A fine idea when first conceived as a free-trade bloc, the profligate, power-hungry body has warped into a centralizing political project without asking the irrelevant little peons it governs whether they want a federated Europe. Originally meant to mutually benefit a handful of similarly scaled economies, the now unwieldy alliance has since absorbed a plethora of far poorer countries and is thus also evolving into a transfer union—to many a German’s dismay.

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