According to the latest US Pew Research Global Attitudes project, the European Union is the new sick man of Europe. The effort over the past half century to create a more united Europe is now the principal casualty of the euro crisis. The European project now stands in disrepute across much of Europe.
Support for European economic integration – the 1957 raison d’etre for creating the European Economic Community, the European Union’s predecessor – is down over last year in five of the eight European Union countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2013. Positive views of the European Union are at or near their low point in most EU nations, even among the young, the hope for the EU’s future. The favorability of the EU has fallen from a median of 60% in 2012 to 45% in 2013. And only in Germany does at least half the public back giving more power to Brussels to deal with the current economic crisis.
The full Pew Report can be accessed here, and a slideshow of the key findings can be seen here.
"The survival of the European project is nowadays summarised by a sequence of unions. Monetary union is judged to be unsustainable without fiscal union. Fiscal union requires banking union and economic union. And to top it all off, the icing on the cake has to be political union. But what exactly is political union? And can it work?" The continuing crisis in the eurozone has strengthened calls for greater economic, fiscal and political union in the EU. But what is political union, and is it even feasible given that Europe’s citizens do not seem to favour deeper political integration? The authors argue that European leaders face a dilemma: the crisis demands more centralised powers, but there are also growing concerns about the EU’s “democratic deficit”. This London School of Economics blog article can be accessed here.
An opinion piece in the New York Times by Brendan Simms, Irish historian and Professor of the History of International Relations in the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge opens with the statement " The cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years..... If anything, today’s Europe still has to learn the lessons of the empire’s failures". Although seemingly obsessed with the "power of Germany" some of Professor Simms comments are worthy of consideration. The NTY opinion piece, entitled the Ghosts of Europe Past, can be accessed here.
Britain’s membership of the European Union continues to be the object of public debate in the UK. A London School of Economics (LSE) article assesses the history of British opposition to European integration, arguing that current debates are still themed around the legacy of the UK’s historical semi-detachment from Europe. The author notes that the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community in the 1970s had as much to do with maintaining the country’s place at the top table of international diplomacy, as it did with the economic benefits expected from membership. "Britain, said Disraeli, does not participate in European affairs, it merely ‘interferes’ in them when ‘her position requires it’". The UK still appears to be unable to define its national identity with respect to the European project. This LSE article can be accessed here