Readers, certainly, can pick other dates, but for me that is the one that sealed it.
Already in decline as an economic, military, scientific, and engineering power for the prior 50 or so years, Europe’s relegation to secondary status became crystal clear for all to see on that violence-filled day on which the Allies landed on the beaches of Nazi-occupied France. That event took place only because of the overwhelming economic, industrial, and military power of the United States. Giving full credit to the courage and skill of the British, and recognizing that without the British the war probably would have been lost, we must also recognize that without the United States the war certainly could not have been won. Without that enormous American power, no hope existed to repulse Hitler's Nazi occupiers, or to prevent a possible new occupation by Stalin’s Communists. The price, however, for needing American assistance was that for the rest of the 20th century, while many issues that preoccupied the world came from or took place there, Europe served only as the stage, and provided the scenery, and some bit actors. The show was managed almost exclusively from Washington D.C. and Moscow.
The transformation of various European commercial, and then economic and political unity schemes that eventually produced the current EU monstrosity is well-known, I won't go through that whole history. Let's just say that it brings into doubt Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest. The EU as currently structured is a scheme that has as its political purpose to reestablish Europe as the center of the world, and dim the light of those braggarts with their Coca-Cola, cowboys, Hollywood, aircraft carriers, and comic books on the other side of the Atlantic. Many years ago, as the EU monster was growing and making ugly noises, I told a German diplomat friend that "France sees the EU as an anti-American project led by French politicians, protected by British troops, and paid for by German taxpayers." That was in the early 1980s; I wasn't too far off.
If you go to the EU's official websites you see lots of bragging about all that the EU has "done," e.g., ended the Cold War, brought peace to Europe, etc. It is written sort of like an Obama speech. It's, of course, rubbish. The EU has basically done nothing except create an enormous bureaucratic Frankenstein and come up with the ultimate Procrustean bed, the Euro. Peace? Sorry, mes amies, it was the cowboys, and their nasty computers, high tech economy, Star Wars weapons, neutron bombs, cruise missiles, and aircraft carrier battle groups that kept the peace and drove the USSR into extinction and reunified Germany--now that's how Darwin is supposed to work! Prosperity? Nope. It was the Marshall Plan, and the American willingness to protect Europe even while Europeans ran around and promoted their cheeses, wines, unwatchable movies, DeGaul, and lectured us on what barbarians we were. When, for example, the situation in ex-Yugoslavia came blowing apart, it wasn't wine, cheese, Brigitte Bardot, Sartre, or the French Foreign Legion, that resolved it. It was the cowboys, once again. It has got be tough to be a European.
Now the whole thing is coming apart at the seams. The question is how much longer are the Germans willing to be the bankers for French ambitions? The Germans are, in many ways, admirable. They, frankly, are at times surprisingly like us; certainly our science and engineering owes them a debt of gratitude--it was their political stupidity that drove some of the finest scientific minds in history to our lands on which they found very fertile ground. They are hard working and amazingly productive: one of the great things about Germany has been its ability to export goods and services regardless of whether the exchange rates are with them or against them. That is a tribute to their productivity and their concern for quality. But, but, they are getting a raw deal in the EU, a deal that not even they will be able to keep paying for. They have to pay for Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and soon Spain, Italy, Belgium, and who knows who else is in the wings waiting with a hand out. And let us not forget, that EU politics are essentially about hand outs: doles, subsidies, protectionism . . . the model for Obama, in other words.
Will the Germans keep paying? Will they keep taking orders from the French, or will we see a rebirth of German nationalism, sick of the rest of Europe reaching into its pockets and constantly throwing WWII in its face. That guilt train will eventually go off the rails, and then we will have something to see . . .
Europe never has recovered from June 6, 1944.