Europeans Skeptical About EU Summit – OpEd
By Nikita Sorokin
The leaders of the 27-member European Union met late last week to discuss a banking union and steps towards further centralization. The participants on the whole demonstrated cautious optimism, as they commonly do, and agreed that the crisis was not over yet. Meanwhile, ordinary Europeans perceive EU summits with growing skepticism, and an increasing number of people completely ignore them.
Voice of Russia correspondents have tested the moods of Europeans in social networks and by talking to experts.
“Let them hold their summits on Mount Everest. There would be one more truth among lies,” a user of Facebook’s Finnish version wrote, when asked by a Voice of Russia correspondent to comment on the recent EU summit in Brussels. The most laconic answer was “A waste of time” – it came from a Spaniard. His fellow Spanish users were more eloquent: “For Europe, it [the banking union] is a super decision, but for Greece, Portugal and Spain it’s a fiasco”. People have no trust in the EU governing bodies because they are too hermetic, Francois Foret, a political science professor at a Brussels university, told the Voice of Russia.
“Here, some things can be changed, while others depend on the very structure of the European Union. For example, they have proposed to establish a direct link between citizens and European institutions, and lately, they have also been considering choosing the EU president by a direct election. That will definitely be a direct link – people will be better aware of a link between their choice during the vote and the elected leaders. But what’s next? Should it be up to the European Parliament and the EU member states to decide who should head the European Commission? It’s unclear. Will it change the situation? I doubt it.”
People are expressing their views, and show that they are involved and are trying to influence political processes, Dr. Heribert Prantl, a member of the editorial board of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
“From my 25-year-old experience I can say that never before has politics been debated so actively. Matters of local, federal and European significance are being brought up. Indeed, many are skeptical as regards the European development. But skepticism is also a reaction. Perhaps, we should think on how to move that criticism over to the positive side.”
German Facebook users have been the most categorical in their assessments of the EU summit’s decisions: “criminal, “disastrous and alien to people”, “a small step against people, but a large one towards Brussels dictatorship”.
The above comments are the most coherent opinions the Voice of Russia correspondents have managed to find on Facebook. Most users either took no interest at all in the summit or were utterly ignorant of the event. From active skepticism, or whatever there was still left of it, there is but just one move towards complete indifference towards the EU policy.