The far right has made its debut in the Swedish parliament with 20 MPs and 5.7% of the vote. And so most European countries now face the forceful advance of this political trend. The European elections of 2009 witnessed it achieve scores higher than 5% in Member States and 38 of its MPs entered the European Parliament.
Economic difficulties cannot explain this development alone.
The opening of the borders in the wake of globalisation is clearly the source of concern which populism turns into an identity issue. Again we witness the rise of nationalist myths and attitudes, a ethnocentric view of the Nation, real cultural xenophobia and even purely racist attitudes. And the far right encourages this by attacking immigration, Islam and insecurity.
Europe, the continent of mobility, which records over 900 million border crossings per year has become the leading destination for immigration. Although it needs this to overcome the problem of its ageing population which may very well decline by one quarter by 2060, falling below the 400 million inhabitants mark, only 20 million foreigners live on the continent - in other words under 5% of its population. It is true that around 8 million illegal immigrants have to be added to this figure.
However it seems unable to integrate these newcomers, 60% of whom are Muslims who increasingly take refuge in their particularism. The attacks of 11th September 2001, terrorism and the war of the fundamentalists against the West have increased tension with Islam all of which the far right now make its target.
The spectre of a war of religion is drawing ever closer.
Europe itself, because of its hesitation and weakness, carries its own responsibility for this.
We should remember immediately that if we critcise Europe it means we are criticsing ourselves, starting with the national governments which establish the direction it takes.
We remember the debate over the preamble of the European Constitution when the acknowledgement of the Christian roots was rejected. We know that Europe refuses to discuss its identity, its borders and it struggles to assert itself on the international stage, denying its population of the "feeling of belonging" which might in fact reassure it generally. It has not succeeded in setting up an effective, clear common policy with regard to immigration. It delays in establishing a common defence and security policy at the european level, mainly because the States, in spite of public opinion, do not want to take that vital step forwards.
The Union's institutions, for their part, continue mechanically to prepare for endless enlargement and seem to prefer bureaucratic timidity to real politics to address those subjects which worry people most. Europe is paying the price of slowing its integration.
The far right is therefore violently hostile to the integration of Europe, which it accuses of being at the service of globalisation and of destroying identities.
But nationalism is primarily fired by fear and extremism successfully flatters the instinct to protect.
In the face of increasing difficulties they face to rise to the urgent demand on the part of public opinion which in turn grows impatient and accustomed to employing the protest vote, the governments of the countries of Europe, challenged by the increasingly fanatical nature of behaviour and discourse do in fact have a unique, original tool at their disposal: a growing Europe that has become the world's leading economic and trading power.
Wisdom and interest dictate that they use this to the full by developing joint policies, with just a few Member States if necessary, in the difficult areas typified by immigration, security and defence.
We can still make that leap forwards. At the same time we would avoid falling into the traps of the past which we no longer wish to experience.