Euroscepticism: How to Understand it, How to Fight it
Mar 12 2014 | Category: Conferences UNITEE - Image 2013 © UNITEE

Eurosceptic parties are attracting more and more voters across Europe. Aware of the diversity they contribute to the European society, the New Europeans are therefore concerned about the direction Europe risks to take after the elections of May 2014. UNITEE organised a conference in order to shed light on the roots of Euroscepticism and possible measures to fight it.

The event took place on 12th March at UNITEE’s Strasbourg Office and offered a lively debate among our experts and interesting insights for the audience:

  • Pierre-Edouard ALTIERI Project Manager (Moderator)
  • Jean-Paul GAUZES MEP (EPP),  Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
  • Michel DEVOLUY Honorary professor at the University of Strasbourg, Jean Monnet Chair in European Economy and author of “Comprendre le débat européen – Petit guide à l’usage des citoyens qui ne croient plus à l’Europe”

Defining Euroscepticism

To begin with, it is important to understand who the Eurosceptics are. Mr DEVOLUY insisted on the fact that it is important to differentiate Eurosceptics from people that do not like Europe. In a similar way, Mr GAUZESstated that Eurosceptics are individuals who have doubts about Europe and who are deeply disappointed by it.

The Democratic Deficit and the EU’s Lack of Visibility

The rise of Eurosceptic views among the citizens can be explained by the lack of democratic legitimacy and visibility on part of the EU. Mr GAUZES emphasised that the EU is perceived as a profoundly bureaucratic entity and that such images are deeply entrenched in the minds of European citizens. Also, Mr GAUZES criticised the lack of attention on the part of the media. Still, Mr DEVOLUY acknowledged that the political groups have enhanced their visibility by announcing their leaders for the elections, which presents a novelty for the European elections.

The Lack of Trust

Another factor is the citizens’ lack of trust towards the EU. Mr DEVOLUY stressed that the EU is disliked because of its complexity and its lack of competence in key areas. Mr GAUZES acknowledged that trust in the EU had been considerably declining. However, disagreeing with the image painted by the media, the MEP does not expect the European elections to be mainly an opportunity for the citizens to unleash their anger.

The Key Challenges for the EU

Mr DEVOLUY declared that the EU has to become a real political union in order to face the great challenges of the 21st century. In fact, “the citizens are waiting for us to speak about the advantages of a federal Europe”, the professor highlighted.  Mr GAUZES underlined that the European citizens have to realise the importance of the survival of the EU. “We need political leaders with a clear vision for Europe”, the MEP concluded.

Read the full report here.

Search on site