The EU Failure
I hate to call the EU dead, but well OK, I will. It's dead.
Perhaps not the economic aspect of the union, but the grand political, lets be a counterweight to the United States EU is now foundering on the rocks of French and Dutch worries. I can't say I'm surprised. The idea of creating a new nation in this day and age seems improbable.
Essentially, what the EU wants to do, and for your Euros please read all of this before you go ballastic, is re-create itself in the U.S. image. Not politically and economically per se, but structurally. Smaller nation/states controlled by an umbrella governing body. However, the step toward independence and then melding the American states took to create one nation was not as broad as the stride the EU must take.
The problem is the 25 nations that would have comprised a formalized EU have spent too many centuries as stand-alone entities. I think it's asking the impossible for these populations to put at risk their cultural identities and concerns for the sake of a larger union, that may or may not be better then what they have right now.
The original 13 American colonies had less time to develop strong local customs and identities, but what helped was they were essentially already apart of the same nation, Britain. Even then there were more then enough interstate problems to overcome, but the outside threat of the British Empire helped smooth these over, at least until the Civil War started.
The EU leadership has, pretty succesfully, tried to make America the outside threat that would help bind together their nation. The U.S. has been hauled across the coals for being the world's bully (Iraq); environmental fiend (Kyoto Treaty) and cultural enemy (McDonalds, Disney, etc).
This strategy has worked brilliantly. From what one hears in the news, the majority of Europeans hate America, but not enough for the French to give up their 39 yearly days of vacation nor the Dutch legalized prostitution and pot. I wonder how many Frenchmen go to Amsterdam to get stoned and meet hookers? Could be a great combo.