A europhile tries to defend Tony's vision of the EU
The challenges of the modern world — global warming, global terror, mass migration, organised crime — require more cooperation between nation states, so if the EU didn’t exist we would have to invent it.
While modern Europe is geographically wide, however, its public support is shallow. People agree with the EU in principle but feel alienated from the practice. Turnouts at European elections are a joke...Scepticism isn’t peculiar to Britain. Elsewhere in Europe public antipathy is common place. The results of the 2005 constitution referendums gave it voice.
Pro-Europeans usually point the finger of blame for such public ambivalence at external influences. The media are a favourite target — and of course sections of the press have waged an unrelentingly negative campaign against Europe.
It reminds me of how parts of the Labour Party, faced with successive election defeats in the 1980s, heaped blame on the public for voting the wrong way. The public was mistaken, not Labour. Eventually we cottoned on that since there were many more members of the public than there were of us, it was we who needed to change.
So it is with Europe. The EU needs to stop pointing and start examining its own part in the gulf that exists between public and Europe. There have been two principal failures: to demonstrate that both its relevance and its governance are in touch with the modern world. ...
None of this implies that Europe’s nations can or should go it alone. Quite the reverse. Europe can build a knowledge economy faster in concert. Europe can better defend itself against crime, terror and global warming by pooling sovereignty. Europe can more effectively shape the world order if it acts in unison on trade, defence and foreign policy. But cooperation between nations nowadays relies on the active cooperation of citizens.
Unless the EU is prepared to address the gulf between rulers and governed we risk a bureaucrats’ Europe, not a peoples’ Europe. It is time for Europe to face outwards not inwards, to empower the public not the politicians. Elitism is out. Engagement is in. Europe needs to learn the lesson.
Or just accept that it is beyond reform. We don't need to "invent" an EU to tackle global problems, we don't need to "pool sovereignty" to protect ourselves, and the idea that a sclerotic "Europe" can build a knowledge economy faster than individual countries can is not only laughable but proven wrong.