Although the European elections will only take place in more than a year’s time, in May 2014, the subject already deserves attention now. Today's exercise aims to present a possible but undesirable scenario.
The financial crises we’ve lived with for the last 5 years have an impact on our European construction too. It appears that the pressure the crisis presents does not lead to deeper integration, but to isolation of countries. Polls clearly show that support for the EU from its citizens is declining. But important to note is that they do not criticize the idea of the European Union – they criticize the European system which has been created in recent years.
In Italy, the Left retained a majority in the Senate after the election. However, the results show the obvious uncertainty of the Italian citizens in choosing their leader. The phenomenon is not different in other cases - Europeans generally show reluctance to politicians and how to manage austerity measures, pushed by a long period of crisis.
Greece was "struck" in recent years, and the anti-European feeling was accentuated. And it was not just the European structure that was criticized, but also - as a first – there was a strong message against certain influential national leaders in Europe, such as the German Chancellor.
The situation in which the Cypriot population is living these days is like "Russian roulette". Cypriot retirees, who deposited their savings at the Cypriot banks, now see their earnings disappear in a difficult to understand ‘banking black hole’.
Unemployment reached alarming proportions. Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal cannot find an antidote to offer the basics to their citizens - opportunities to work and have a normal life. Integrating young people seems hopeless as they are shocked by the current situation.
There are countries lucky to have managed the crisis better. For example, at the moment in Germany there aren’t problems with public support for the European project, but this can change in a heartbeat.
Simplifying a bit, the picture of EU 2013 looks pretty distorted. Governments and politicians in power, sail through an endless nebula with too few solutions. Opposition parties in member states try to propose solutions, but the credibility of the political message decreases every day.
Over the last couple of years we have seen new leaders, new moves, new proposals and that's not bad. The problem is that most of them build their public discourse on radicalization of the anti-system message, including anti-EU connotations. What is even worse is that proposals with those ideals get credit nationally. However, the tangible result is that these parties only manage to clash with the political system without any concrete action that helps their constituency.
How can European citizens understand all that surrounds them? What does one of the 500 million Europeans think? Who put can they trust to provide a pragmatic solution?
If we continue the current trend, the anti-system parties will benefit enormously from the European elections next year. In a disaster scenario there could be up to 25% of the European Parliament dominated by MEPs who are against the EU after the elections next year, who want to return to national matrices, with no chance of maintaining the European system.
There is still time to change the outcome of the European elections. It's time for new politicians to come forward. It's time for national parties to discuss the European project transnationally. A European project needs transparency, practical political sense and ambition of leaders to advance the potential.
We should not have double messages. What is said in the European Parliament, please reflect the same story at home on national television. We do not need phrases like "Well, Brussels decided", when you are an MEP or a European Commissioner.
There are issues that are politically dangerous, nevertheless they should be discussed. The stakes are huge - it's practically a bet on whether or not to continue the European project. We need to show that the EU is the structure that solves citizens’ problems – it’s the structure built by those who truly believe in improving the quality of life of EU citizens.
Dan LUCA / Brussels