Global Independent Analytics
Normunds Grostins
Normunds Grostins

Location: Latvia

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

The EU: An Ever Closer Union?

Under the surface of colorful daily news, the EU machine continues to forge "an ever closer union."

The main theme for Europe now is a recurring fragmentation. Indeed, we see an ongoing political and even territorial (see Catalonia) fragmentation of the Continent. The European Union is dealing with three main challenges: the migration crisis and political developments in Spain and in Greece

Ever since the Treaty of Rome was ratified in 1957, the goal of “an ever closer union” has been included in all new treaties. British Prime Minister David Cameron has been demanding for a long time an opt-out from the text on eternal integration. But he soon realized that he was doomed when the then-president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso calmly stated in a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin on May 2014 that it is pointless to try to set a limit on European integration.

The EU is and always has been an elite project. To overcome fragmentation and move towards "an ever loser union,” the EU needs public support. But in the few cases when voters actually were given the opportunity to voice their opinion they often rejected the European vision laid out by politicians from above. Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty in 2001, the French and Dutch said no to the Constitution of Europe in 2005 and the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty in 2008.

When the idea of an even more far-reaching EU integration meets hard resistance, the politicians and Eurocrats usually choose to turn a blind eye. Rather than bravely admitting that the construction of an “ever closer union", both in speed and context, lacks popular support, they prefer to blame problems on a lack of communication.

When elections to the European Parliament in June 2009 resulted in the lowest turnout of all time, Margot Wallström of the Commission proclaimed: “The election results show that there is need for more active communication about the EU.”

Increasing the amount of pro-EU communication (eurosceptics call it europropaganda) is the responsibility of the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Communication, the equivalent to the Ministry of Information.

The Directorate-General of Communication will contribute further to improving and maintaining a positive image of the EU in the media and among the public. It even has a specific target. By 2017 the goal is that 32 percent of the citizens in the Union will have a positive image of the EU. The goal is to reach at least 50 percent by 2020. (1)

Tax resources are used by the Directorate-General of Communication to form the opinion of the taxpayers who paid them.  And ... it works. The number of Europeans who say they have a positive image of the EU has risen from 39% in last November to 41% in May 2015. 38% say they have a neutral image and only 19% say they have a negative image in the May 2015 poll (see graph).

Is propaganda the right tool for avoiding fragmentation? The problem for the EU is that there are not many other tools left in the tool basket.

(1)(European Commission (2001), Communication from the Commission to the council, the European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee, The Committee of the Regions on A News Framework for cooperation on activities concerning the Information and Communication Policy of the European Union, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/ legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52001DC0354&from=EN )

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