The economic crisis of the past years triggered a rising sentiment of Euroscepticism and pro-nationalism all over Europe. Instead of more European integration, Eurosceptics argue for a course change and wish for a return of powers to national states. However, the European Parliamentary Research Service published an extensive report, ‘Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe 2014/2019’, which suggests that if EU policies in certain areas would be pursued over time, the economic benefit for the member states might be as much as €990 billion.
Accordingly, UNITEE and The European Movement International (EMI) organised the conference ‘The Costs of Non-Europe: How Euroscepticism is harming European Integration’ on the 15th of October 2014 in Brussels, in order to discuss the limits and opportunities of European integration, taking into account both the Eurosceptic sentiments but also the costs of non-integration.
The panel included:
• Klaus WELLE, Secretary General of the European Parliament – whose office was responsible for the report publication;
• Isabelle DURANT, Vice-President Union of European Federalists;
• Peter FAROSS, Secretary General of UEAPME.
The panel was introduced with a welcome statement from Jo LEINEN, President of EMI, and moderated by Kristina BELIKOVA, EU affairs correspondent at GBtimes.
The Report ‘Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe 2014/2019’
Klaus WELLE highlighted that there is a need to re-establish a positive vision of Europe, a positive agenda on EU integration. According to him, this is the reason why the report ‘Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe 2014/2019’ does not focus on processes but rather on very precise outcomes, which is what citizens want to see. Concerning the Eurosceptics, he affirmed that the study could represent a tool to increase dialogue, as it offers concrete figures and facts, which are not easily denied.
SMEs and the Benefits of European Integration
Peter FAROSS stressed that Europe, like it or not, is a reality and rebuilding national borders will mean having less growth, less economic collaboration and possibly less democracy. ‘We need to show SMEs that the EU is not the bureaucratic monster they believe it to be, we have to cut red tape. This is extremely important because it is much more expensive for SMEs to deal with bureaucracy than it is for big companies’. On his part, UNITEE’s President Adem KUMCU pointed out how important European integration is for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and their ability to do business beyond borders.
The Democratic Deficit and the Rise of Euroscepticism
Isabelle DURANT explicitly stressed the need to look at the needs and convictions of the citizens and to take their concerns seriously. According to her, this starts with democracy and with listening to the people. The EU needs to answer their concern if we want to stop the rise of Eurosceptic parties. The speaker also referred to the very topical migration problem in southern countries and stressed that more diversity is not a threat but rather an added value.
Read the full report here.
Access the report ‘Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe 2014/2019’ here.
View the picture gallery here.