Let us face it: enlargement is not a self-evident principle, and the changeover to the euro is not a coronation. The European Union is not an odd one, and that is an understatement. According to concurrent surveys in the Member States, a majority of voters over the past year would be unfavorable to the continuation of the European integration process. The figures vary according to the country, the questions asked, the economic situation and the events of the day, but, taken as a whole, they reflect a crescendo of disarray, or even a flagrant disregard, dramatically manifested during the Irish referendum on the Treaty of Nice.
Indifferent, discontented or recalcitrant, are these majority citizens Eurosceptics? No, if we are to adopt the generally accepted definition, that is to say, the one applying to the single currency’s opponents, to unconditional supporters of the sovereign nation or to fervent adherents of a simple economic space Of free trade. Proof of this is that if we go back to the surveys and examine in more detail the under-35s about their vision of Europe, something very pragmatic and generous comes out. Environment: yes, only the EU can manage these very complex dossiers with global implications. Security, defense and foreign policy: no country today can claim to handle the appropriate decisions and instruments, so it is necessary to have structures and common aims. A place for multilateralism to deal with the great international tragedies, increasingly burdensome in everyday life. A spontaneous interrogation sometimes raised: Would Bosnia and Serbia have waged war if they had been members of the EU? Yes to enlargement, certainly, but not in any way, and probably with a gradual, controlled, dialogued approach. To hear them, these young active citizens of the Union are not, either, especially concerned about the concept of nation. More and more of them are adopting transnational reflexes, even those of the left who claim to be “anti-globalist” in the wake of ATTAC. On the other hand, they are very attached to their city, their region, their formations, outlets and jobs, their culture and their language. Subsidiarity, even if it is a Brussels jargon that is unfamiliar to them, seems to be a fundamental notion here. Says in substance: in Brussels, some major issues managed in common but in a transparent way, to us the local decisions and initiatives. Simple, right? This new generation says no to the status quo. It demands loudly: let us discuss, but discuss concretely, by democratic means. It is Eurocritical rather than Eurosceptic.
A recent poll, reflecting all ages and categories, quoted by Mark Leonard and Tom Arbuthnott of the London Foreign Policy Center, also states that 68% of Europeans want a common foreign policy and 50% a common defense (opinions that have Strengthen in the aftermath of 11 September). Let us therefore bet that the “Eurocritics” are today the majority. But we will not know precisely before consulting the populations. And how can we do it without offering them a genuine European project?