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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 4 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.