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French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The European experiment is in trouble ahead of the largely ignored European Parliament elections in May.

Driving the news: French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday placed an op-ed in newspapers around the continent — in all 28 eurozone countries — warning of the "trap" that could destroy the EU.

  • "Never since the second world war has Europe been so essential. Yet never has Europe been in such danger," Macron writes.

Details: The every-five-years elections select lawmakers for the body, which shares power over the EU budget and legislation, and makes sure other EU institutions are working democratically.

It's a largely ceremonial body whose elections draw diminishing voter turnout (sinking to around 45% in 2014), but the elections have already shown their importance, Markus Schomer, chief economist at PineBridge Investments, tells Axios.

  • "Brexit showed us that they can be very, very consequential and we overlooked it then, didn't we?"

Flashback: In the 2014 European elections the right-wing U.K. Independence Party triumphed over the reigning right-of-center Conservatives, leading the Conservatives to promise a referendum on leaving the EU if they were re-elected.

The next domino in the euro's fall could be France, Schomer says.

  • "We're living in a world where there are a lot of angry people everywhere. My worry is something could happen in these elections again that lights the fuse for another Brexit-like event a few years from now."
  • A triumph by France's far right and "I think they'll blow up the euro," Schomer says, "and of course blowing up the euro will be a 2008-style financial crisis."

The big picture: This is all happening as the eurozone barrels towards economic growth crisis.

The IMF revised down its forecast for growth to 1.6% in January, but Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser for Allianz SE, said on Monday that such an estimate is actually too optimistic.

He expects the eurozone will struggle to deliver even 1% GDP growth this year and calls the slowdown the biggest risk to the market.

  • Worse still, El-Erian tells Reuters the European Central Bank has limited tools at its disposal to respond to economic weakness and European governments are not prepared to respond with spending.

Macron's op-ed seems to confirm the gravity of the situation:

"Citizens of Europe, if I am taking the liberty of addressing you directly, it is not only in the name of the history and values that unite us, but because time is of the essence."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.