Europe, despite its overall decline in the wake of WWII, remains one of the most important regions in the world.
European states share similar political systems and, despite the differences, have a relatively homogeneous "background culture" based on democracy, the rule of law, human rights, economic liberalism and the Christian religion. In economic terms, despite the recession that affected it in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, the Old Continent still counts a highly-developed economy. Europe is also the homeland of the world's most advanced, yet debated, regional integration experiments, namely the EU. Finally, most European states are close allies of the United States, through the membership to NATO.
Still, Europe is facing serious challenges today.
The eurozone crisis has not only resulted in a serious economic slowdown with sensible social consequences, but it also had notable political effects. The traditional political parties lost some of their grip to the benefit of a wave of populist movements; and the EU has been accused of being unable to manage the crisis, with many voices calling it an instrument of (German) economic imperialism and even questioning its legitimacy and existence. While the worst phase of the crisis seems to be over and recovery appears to consolidate, the situation will continue to affect the European continent and especially the EU, whose foundations and institutions have suffered significantly. The decision of the UK to leave the European Union (Brexit) now marks the political debate and its consequences will not be negligible, especially as it sets a precedent that other countries may imitate in the future.