Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

How can the EU win the people’s trust?

Former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio raises some important points:

“few official pronouncements, let alone policies, are addressing Europe’s deficit of trust and credibility. The current crisis has exposed the original lacunae and widening cracks in the compact between Europe’s citizens and EU institutions, between Europe’s north and south, and between its peoples and its elites.

“…The EU’s supposed democratic deficit is a corollary of the ‘technocratic imperative’ that has emerged as a favorite scapegoat in the ongoing European drama. According to this view, European integration was flawed from the outset, more than six decades ago, because it was conceived and developed as an elite project. But, for as long as the European project delivered prosperity, no one bothered to question its rationale. [Nosemonkey note: Well, some did – but most were dismissed as fringe loons…]

“If EU institutions are to regain trust and relevance, they need to articulate concrete policies and deliver on issues that bear directly on citizens’ interests”

And what *are* citizens’ interests? There lies the rub: Throughout the long history of European integration, at no point have the people been asked what *they* want out of it. At no point have *the people of Europe* been asked what powers and responsibilities should be pooled at European level.

Because although some might write me off as an anti-democratic elitist, my position on the EU has been fairly consistent in one regard for years: European integration will never work unless you ask the people what form (if any) it should take:

“if our representatives at these meetings are starting from a position of ignorance about what the people they are representing actually want, little wonder that they end up with something that the people then reject.”

This has long been the EU’s most fundamental flaw – and it looks like the current politicians running the place still haven’t realised that they need to address this most serious of issues if any of the others they are facing are ever to be properly dealt with.

God alone knows how, though. Perhaps a multiple-choice questionnaire? “Which of the following areas should be dealt with at EU level? Yes / Maybe / No” (etc.)

Hell, it’s no more stupid than most of the other suggestions I’ve heard over the years…