December 22, 2014 9:10 AM EST

It’s sometimes hard to remember that the European Union grew out of a desire to avoid conflict. These days the E.U. itself is a flash point. In 2015 at least six of the organization’s 28 members–Estonia, Finland, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the U.K.–will hold national elections that could affect their relationships with, and within, the Union. These contests–as well as departmental and regional elections in France, provincial polls in Holland and a key state election in Germany–will give anti-Europe parties a stage on which to perform. Many of them are attempting to ride the shock waves triggered by Europe’s economic woes to electoral victory. Even Britain, which is not part of the euro zone, has seen its anti-E.U. U.K. Independence Party surge as voters worry about citizens from continental Europe taking up the right to work in the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron promises a referendum on the country’s relationship with the E.U. if his Conservative Party wins the May 7 general election. That could make Britain the first to break with the E.U.–but it probably won’t be the last.

This appears in the December 29, 2014 issue of TIME.

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