The EU is still fragile after its long decade of crises since 2008, and its durability remains an open question. New capacities were created during this time. But it is not clear how robust they are and whether developing them further will encounter insurmountable obstacles, including resentment by citizens. Over time, tensions and disagreements unleashed three foundational conflicts: conflicts over sovereignty (who decides), solidarity (who gets what when and why) and identity (who we are). The crisis politics that was deployed to deal with such tensions has often constrained policy responses in scope and effectiveness. Against the odds, however, the destructive spiral stopped short of driving the Union into self-destruction: a circumstance that calls for an explanation. We summarize empirical research that shows three ways in which this unexpected resilience can be explained: public rhetorical action, externalization strategies, and the paradoxical strengths of a weak centre in achieving polity maintenance.