Radical right wing parties have been increasingly effective in challenging and eroding this consensus, using a redemptive sovereigntist platform to ‘take back control’ from the EU in a number of important policy areas. Their electoral gains, but more importantly their growing agenda-setting momentum, have combined with an alarming hardening of attitudes in large sectors of the political and social mainstream in the same sovereigntist direction. Unless the EU shifts the discussion effectively and convincingly, addressing the causes of citizen resentment without adopting the language and logic of the right wing populists, its future as a united, politically relevant block looks uncertain.
The surge of Islamophobia in Europe has been linked with the growing popularity and agenda-setting power of the radical right. However, attributing the rise of Islamophobia to the radical right-wing parties is all too comforting at a time when the dominant, ‘mainstream’ culture has increasingly embraced positions openly hostile and often discriminatory to Islam and Muslim communities. The fight against Islamophobia begins with the realization that Islamophobia is a ‘mainstream’ problem for European societies, which now need more than ever a positive vision for a diverse, inclusive, and open post-crisis Europe.