The Europe of Tomorrow
It is still essential to stress the EU’s role as a guarantor of peace and prosperity following World War II. But today’s EU must foster additional sources of legitimacy if it is to appeal to today's post-postwar generation.
MADRID – Every five years, the European Union engages in an exercise of self-awareness. The European Parliament elections allow us to look at ourselves in the mirror and take stock of the passage of time. The upcoming elections, however, are special: they will be the first since the refugee crisis, the Brexit referendum, and the election of US President Donald Trump. In these tumultuous years, our gaze has been perennially focused on the mirror. After this vote, our reflection will finally acquire the clarity for which we have been yearning.
European Parliament elections are usually labeled “second-order elections.” Low voter turnout, which has been falling steadily since the first election in 1979, seems to indicate that Europeans do not attach enough importance to them. Three months before this year’s election, only 33% of European citizens knew that it would be held in May, and only 5% knew the exact dates. A month ago, just 26% of Germans were familiar with their countryman Manfred Weber – the European People’s Party’s candidate for the European Commission presidency.
And yet opinion polls paint a much brighter picture. The latest Eurobarometer survey shows that almost seven out of ten Europeans, excluding the British, believe that their country has benefited from integration – the highest share since 1983. Most British people, incidentally, now hold the same view.