According to Wikipedia “the rise in populist right-wing parties in Europe is strongly linked to a rise in Euro skepticism on the continent”, which I complete disagree. It´s on the opposite sense: the failure of the European project is what is driving citizens to search for alternatives that could make them recover the missing sense of security. Indeed, revolving doors, biased private interests and wrong strategically focus during financial crisis time –austerity-, makes of European institutions a model of weakness and ineffectiveness.
Lack of information and a sense of being overwhelmed by multiple crises: financial, migration or security is translated in skepticism towards the EU. Repeatedly we heard that the EU is going through an institutional crisis in which the project in itself is not working and is not resilient to face challenges. Nations submerged in financial-economic-cultural panic accompanied by the feeling of loosing traditional EU safety codes, shapes a stage of constant political instability.
Anti-globalists, anti-Europeans, racists, xenophobes and isolationists gather around a main goal: attribute to the EU responsibility of all crises using a populist message based in a nationalist ideology. It presents EU as a failed project that needs to be replaced by isolationist codes. However, the EU is not responsible for global crises and has not contributed directly to their emerge. By the contrary, financial crisis e.g has been generated in US and the EU just absorbed its consequences. Migration crisis is another example in which EU has displayed an active role and shows a strong political will to contribute. Vision and sense of a global strategy is within the institution although not on their leaders. Is it here that skepticism arises stronger than ever and not without reason, however, manipulated by far right wing movements.
The solution to counterbalance this growing negative trend relies on the active engagement of European citizens and the development of new and stronger mechanisms of participatory democracy able to change the perception of insecurity from the citizens.
A right political model for a united Europe should be based not only on a solid political will from country members but of tangible citizen engagement on the decision making process that allow them to participate and feel part of EU decisions –even if they disagree-.
The closeness of the citizenship to European Union institutions is what marks the difference is it so, that a process of decentralisation from Brussels based on the active engagement of citizens, becomes particularly relevant. The EU office representation in each country should be active and in a constant engagement with citizens at individual and public level. In a permanent dialogue with government and citizens, identifying the main concerns that demand a broader action. Mechanisms of participatory democracy –like the European citizen initiative, consultations or petitions- needs to be reshaped and promoted and legislation needs to be reformed in order to make those mechanisms more accessible.
All of the above leads to the conclusion that there is not a real skepticism about the European project in itself but a skeptical view about European leadership that boost anti-European movements. That’s the key: change leaders and you´ll change the perception that citizens are having of European institutions. And only by a “tangible” approach from their citizens is that the failed trust on institutions and leaders will be recovered. Under two basic principles: versatility and flexibility; two essential elements for resilient systems and particularly to the European Union in current time of challenges under a no responsive political infrastructure.