In Praise of Euroskepticism

The EU's senior officials must learn that Euroskepticism is fundamentally healthy, because it invites closer examination of the policy options open to Europe. This leads to better understanding of the issues at stake, and the reasons why some policies have been adopted that challenge or even override the sovereign powers of individual countries.

BRUSSELS -- The EU has no coherent strategy on many issues. It has only sketchy economic policies toward Russia; ambitions, but no game plan, to become a player in the Middle East; and, despite its original leadership on the Kyoto Protocol, no successor program on climate change. And the biggest question of all – how to engage with China, India, and other giants of the future – has received virtually no attention from EU-level policymakers.

These issues require attention now, and an integral part of the EU’s search for new global strategies should be to invite, rather than avoid, criticism of its activities. If the EU is to lift its gaze from its navel to the horizon, it must reconcile the very different views that exist across Europe of its place in the world and its own best interests. That means engaging with those shades of political opinion that the European Commission and the European Parliament consider “Euroskeptical.”

The counter-pressure, of course, is that EU officialdom feels unloved and unappreciated. There is an almost embattled culture among many senior officials, who fear that fanning the flames of dissent among Europe’s voters could one day knock European unity off course.