The European project, until recently, has been about the freedom of movement and trade within the European Union, which with time would tear down the cultural rifts separating the different constituent nations and lead, eventually, to the emergence of a modern, cosmopolitan, multicultural but always European culture. It was a utopian vision, to be sure. It was supposed to lead to the establishment of a strong but peaceful geopolitical player that could hold its own on the world stage - and, I'd once hoped, to be a source of inspiration for those, like the American Left, who favor progressive government policies supported by intelligent, educated populations.
But by now it is becoming clear that this vision was perhaps too utopian to be true. What went wrong?
In my view, I would suggest that Europe has expanded too quickly. As it has continued to expand, it has taken under its wing nations - such as Romania and Bulgaria, which were admitted in 2007 - whose populations lack the education or intellectual sophistication required to understand or embrace the European project, whose cultures have had too many differences from the kind of cosmopolitanism that had previously characterized the European consensus.
For example, in the post I've linked above, you can find quite a bit of racism, ignorance, and unsophisticated commentary masquerading as legitimate political discussion, expressed by citizens of recently-admitted members of the EU. The OP I've linked, for instance, parrots a couple of propaganda videos, devoid of context, that are intended to smear Syrian refugees as being uncivilized (despite Syria's having been, in the not too recent past, itself relatively cosmopolitan, educated, and well-off, and without any consideration for the ordeal individual refugees have undergone or are surely continuing to undergo while far from home). The post is akin to the sort of selectively-edited videos we see circulated by right-wing pundits, in the US, every time POC's protest racial injustice, and it's comparably vile. Similarly, one of the comments links to a junk website describing a recent press conference given by John Kerry, with a commentary suggesting that the commenter simply doesn't understand the difference between a barely-literate caricature of something John Kerry probably didn't say and something he in fact said.
These elements pollute the European project. They inject a kind of hateful, racist, uninformed rhetoric that is incompatible with the multicultural discourse that a unified Europe requires. How is the utopian vision of the European Union possible, when its citizens are so easily whipped into xenophobic, racist furor? It seems that the Syrian refugee menace, as some have described it, has brought out what really threatens the European vision - a deeply prejudiced and vehement racism.
In hindsight, perhaps it would have been wise for the European Union to close its borders to these people.