Citizens of the European Member States seem to be resorting
back to Euroscepticism and show clear signs of cold feet regarding the single
market / single currency project (reality?).
According to the December 2012 Eurobarometer,
40% of the population of the EU Member States is against the European economic
and monetary union with a single currency (with an additional 7% showing
scepticism or, simply, lack of knowledge about the project).
Standard Eurobarometer 78, December 2012, p. 16.
Moreover, 29% of the citizens of the EU Member States have a
negative image of the EU—and the breadth of disenchantment with the EU project
may be increased to 68% if one adds those that have a neutral image (surely,
neutral means that the project does not match their expectations and can easily
change into negative, particularly if the economic crisis continues to worsen).
Standard Eurobarometer 78, December 2012, p. 15.
These are very worrying data and
some are using them to support anti-EU movements. I think that is both
opportunistic and dangerous. Talks about taking steps back and pulling out of
the Eurozone and/or the EU usually do not follow a thorough consideration of
their ultimate implications (some of which are unknown because the construction
process has always been considered irreversible).
In my view, the only way out of
this accelerating vicious circle is to stop being citizens of a Member State of
the European Union and start being EU citizens. Only when most (all) of us
realize the massive space of personal freedom and liberties created by the EU
project will we be in a position to understand the fundamental importance of
remaining involved and to continue working (and sacrificing) to further the EU
and finally consolidate it.
The European Commission is
working clearly in that direction and has declared
2013 the European Year of (EU) Citizens. A series of informative materials have
been published to try and raise awareness of our rights as EU
citizens, in the hope that a better informed citizenship will appreciate
the benefits of the EU project and will be in a better position to accept the
sacrifices it demands at certain times.
However, as stressed by some
analysts like Kellner,
if one wants to prompt (short term) action, taking a positive approach may not
be as effective as exploiting the ‘fear factor’. Indeed, citizens are more
likely to react and vote or demonstrate out of fear (or rage) than fuelled by
optimism, compromise and good intentions. Extremist parties know this far too
well and tend to take advantage of it (as will be discussed in full in a
relevant and much
So maybe the EU project is doomed
after all, because it goes against its very essence to use
threats and dark horizons as a tool to promote integration. The situation is
starting to look like a street fight were the polite citizen just does not know
what to do to escape from the raider with a flicknife. And the answer seems to be
the same as always, he can only be rescued by a group of neighbours walking by the
dark alley and scaring off the assaultant.
why I think it ultimately rests on each of us becoming a true EU citizen and to
actually get involved in the EU project. I think that this applies specially to
younger generations (those of us below 40 now), since we are taking the
existence of the EU for granted—much as we take for granted peace and
development in this continent, or our constitutional and fundamental rights
(given that most of us are ‘post-constitutional children’ and consider that our
liberties and personal freedoms are grandfathered and nobody can take them away
from us). It would be a disaster if we were proven wrong and, at some point, we
had to start telling bonfire stories about the long-gone EU.