European elections: The beginning of the end for the Union?

The European elections in May are just in a few months and European political parties have already proposed a candidate for President of the European Commission, aiming to strengthen the electoral profile and give European citizens an additional reason to vote in order to reduce the dramatically high abstention percentage in the previous elections. This percentage seems to be the mainstay of Eurosceptics to gather so many votes as to have a strong position in the European Parliament.

Euroscepticism is a political ideology that has recently appeared within Europe. It is an ideology which expresses doubt or questions the European Union (EU) and its function. An ideology that, depending on which country and during which period is expressed, receives different sizes, from a simple disbelief regarding the effectiveness of the Union, up to proposing its dissolution. Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Spain, but mainly France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom are countries strongly Eurosceptic. Some of the most powerful countries in Europe, which constitute the core of the EU, strongly question both the institutions of the Union and the single monetary union. In the middle of this controversy climate at such a critical time for Europe, the public significant statement of the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who announced the join of Turkey in the Eurosceptic party of European conservatives, causes even more trouble. A statement which causes many reasonable questions, as for years, the governments of Turkey were trying to join the European Union, while the British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has promised to hold a referendum regarding the remaining of Britain or not in the EU, in the case of his re-election, wanted Turkey’s accession to the European community, and supports the creation of a loose federation of heterogeneous member states. Could this alliance of eurosceptic countries divide Europeans so much as to block the functioning of the Union?

To answer this question, we must first investigate the causes of the appearance of Euroscepticism. Major exponents of Euroscepticism are the extreme-right conservative parties in each European country, which are hostile to immigrants and blame the EU for the spread and the serious consequences of the global economic crisis, which have great impact both to their country and in the world economy. Even in countries which have not been directly affected by the crisis, such as Germany, the percentages of questioning the Union are increasing, while Eurosceptics now have a strong position in the German parliament. Therefore, are the effects of the economic crisis being used as a cause by the Europeans for not promoting their national interest?

Indeed, according to research, European citizens believe that their national interest is sacrificed to the European family, in the name of promoting the public interest. Since actions to promote the EU interest as a whole, other member states benefit more, while others are unappreciated. The citizens express their distrust for their national governments and blame their leaders for the current political and economic situation that affects the daily lives of all the European citizens.

In conclusion, Euroscepticism seems to have already begun to affects the cooperative attitude among the European Union and member states. The upcoming elections will be proven extremely critical for the preservance of cooperation between countries, so as to gradually achieve the European integration or the prevalence of the wave of Eurosceptics as a result the beginning of the end of the vision of integration. We hope people will participate at the polls and decide conscientiously the best outcome for both their national and their European family.

Mari Christina-Maria
Undergraduate student University of Piraeus

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