S&D Barcelona Conference: Euroscepticism

Tomorrow and Tuesday I shall be in Barcelona to attend a conference of  the “Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament” (Press Release here). I was invited to participate in a round table discussion on Euroscepticism. Below is the abstract of my proposal:

How can Social Democracy counter nationalism and Euroscepticism while strengthening the EU?

The term ‘Eurosceptic’ is typically given to people of any political background who possess and advocate a highly negative attitude towards the European Union. Euroscepticism is, consequently, a set of political convictions that defines itself as ‘against’ the EU.

The central theme of my idea is that Euroscepticism only gains purchase on people’s thinking in contexts where public understanding of the EU itself is either partial or inadequate. Certainly, without access to the relevant facts – historical, institutional and ideological – the public is likely to be easily persuaded by a Eurosceptical stance.

Accordingly, what Social Democrats must do to counter Euroscepticism is to fill in the blanks and define clearly what Europe is for – not just through explanations of how the Commission, Parliament and Council operate, but through, more importantly, the articulation of a vision for Europe. Eurosceptics will be unable to capitalise on generalisations if Social Democrats provide specifics.

Key questions that arise in this situation are: What is Europe for? Why does it exist today? After decades of peace, what is its relevance? Given its geopolitical situation after 1989, what should we expect from a united Europe? What is the difference between a Europe of the Left and a Europe of the Right? To counter Euroscepticism, Social Democrats must provide compelling answers to such questions, so as to project an idea of Europe that is more than just a common economic market and, least of all, a bureaucratic mystery.

2 Comments

  1. The main problem of Europe is this aristocrathic way of life of it’s politicians, who rather than making a loyal job are making benefits for their own self. Moreover, worst than these ones are the others (such as you) who just pretend and aim to get profit of this current unfair situation.

    In conclusion, the main problem of Europe are the Eurocrats who live in Brussels.

  2. I wouldn't agree with Anon.

    However I do see that it would piss off the majority of people who have genuine concerns about Europe because of ideological (or just generally taking a sceptical view in order to properly scrutinize changes) to suggest that they take a eurosceptical view because of being ignorant of all the facts.

    I will always call myself a pro-EU eurosceptic. I will defend the idea of the EU but I will also question it and want its reform. I will also respect those that have genuine concerns and an ideological reason for being eurosceptic (however I will always point out false claims and argue against opponents making over-the-top, semi-ficticious claims that are based in ignorance).

    PS I don't think it is the job of social democrats to fight against euroscepticism it is the job of EU supporters in general.

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