In the coming years, the defining alliance between France and Germany will be the closest it's been to an equal partnership in a decade. The question is whether the relationship that has kept the bloc together in the past will be enough to preserve its unity in the future.
The European Union has been discussing greater integration, which has left some of the countries in these regions questioning how close they want to get to the Continental bloc.
France's 2017 presidential election could determine more than just who the country's next president will be. After years of economic decline and shaken by terrorist attacks at home and elsewhere in Europe, many French voters are disenchanted with traditional political parties, dubious of the country's economic prospects, and uncertain of its role in Europe and the world. During the next presidential election, set for April 2017, voters will reveal the extent of change in France, setting the course of the country's future and that of the European Union as a whole.
Storm clouds are once again gathering above the eurozone. In coming months, its continuity will be threatened by events in Europe and the United States. Germany, the largest political and economic player in Europe, will try to keep the bloc together. But the crisis could be too big for Berlin to handle.
If a nationalist party gains power in France or Italy, the eurozone's days could be numbered. Despite the small chances of it actually happening, the fact that the collapse of the currency union is even possible speaks volumes about the size of the problems Europe faces.
Like all political creations, the European Union is a fleeting construction in the vast expanse of history. One day it will disappear, to be replaced by other entities, or it will continue in name only, looking and operating far differently than the European Union of today. It is impossible to know exactly when this transformation will happen or just how long the process will take.
After the results of the Brexit referendum, many EU governments and officials went out of their way to emphasize that the vote did not herald the end of the European Union and could even make it stronger. For these officials, presenting the vote as an oddity is essential to preserving the bloc.
In the wake of a Brexit, uncertainty -- the archenemy of economic growth and financial stability -- would abound. But if Britain withdraws from the Continental bloc, it would shake the balance of power in Europe to its very foundation and force the bloc to rethink its role in the world.