Midlife Crisis: State Of The European UnionThe euro -- the single currency shared by 16 nations -- has been shaken by the global economic downturn and the lack of a joint, enforceable monetary policy. The EU social model has been eroded by national debt and budget-cutting austerity measures. And a newly assertive Germany is causing anxiety among its union partners.
Dutch soccer fans watch the 2010 World Cup final July 11 between the Netherlands and Spain on large screens near the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Fierce nationalism remains a major barrier to greater EU integration.
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People stand in line outside a government job center in Madrid last month. After Spain adopted the euro in 1999, investment flowed into the country and the economy boomed. Now, it is suffering from the highest unemployment rate in the 16-nation eurozone and grappling with the way to recovery.
Victor R. Caivano/AP
People march during a protest in Marseille, southern France, last month. Workers nationwide were striking to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60. Sweeping reforms to France's money-losing pension system is part of efforts around Europe to cut back on growing public debts.
Protesters in Berlin demonstrate last month against federal government budget cuts. Here, a participant's sign criticizes the government for being disconnected from reality and power-hungry. German discontent is growing over the country's leadership -- and paymaster -- role in the European Union.
Five decades after the idea was born in the aftermath of World War II, the European Union is being tested by 21st century challenges. Above, the Euro monument is illuminated in front of the European Central Bank in downtown Frankfurt, Germany.