The rise of extremes both on the left and right is the novelty in the present campaign in view of the upcoming European elections on 22nd-25th May. Using exaggerated, basic, and often outdated arguments the dissenters have found a federating scapegoat: the European Union.
At the same the real issues at heart are circumnavigated - admittedly these are complex - and yet they are decisive for the future of our States. What should be shared and decided together to best adapt the European economy to the new world? What is the respective place of the common institutions and the nations? What means shall we devote to joint action? Which economic and monetary policies do we have to choose? How shall we reduce the debts and deficits that have been formed due to careless government behaviour? What kind of European project are we offering to the citizens and what is the outlook?
Suddenly the eurosceptics - boosted by populist support are having a field day.
Once every five years we speak of Europe and it is used to blow off steam.
It is true that discontent is rising in Europe. It is firstly addressed to national governments and even parliaments which have not shown much foresight nor success during the crisis. Of course expectations are high of active, effective and more political European institutions.
And a great deal of criticism might be quite rightly addressed against the latter from this point of view. But it is of these quite precisely that we are not speaking. Yes, the institutional practices of European actors must change. First they have to address the citizens before discussing matters between themselves. Are we sure, as we sit in our capitals, that we want to be governed from above, where some want to "change everything" because they have understood nothing or are pretending not to be responsible for the situation.
We are Europe, our States decided to work together in way that is unique and exceptional from an historical point of view. Now Europe must necessarily become a more political union, with people progressively drawing closer together, which when it is truly democratic will be a bonus to national democracies. We have not reached that point yet and for the time being we have to give credit where credit is due i.e. the crisis is the responsibility of our own governments. The diversity of economic situations in the Union shows that when necessary some have implemented vital changes courageously and with the greatest difficulty - and they are doing well, whilst others have hesitated, cheated, postponed necessary changes
and are doing badly. And all of this with the same European policies.
Moreover attempts to involve more of citizens in this important election have not been very well adapted.
Has the vote been politicised? Have there been any real remedies on either the left or the right to resolve the government debts and deficits? Is it quite precisely a mistake to politicise the choices that are of a higher interest? Whilst in the new Parliament both left and right will have to cooperate with each other?
And what about personalising the issues? Is there any real difference between the main candidates and their programmes? They deny it themselves since they know that beyond the artificial divisions, there is work to be done that requires everyone's mobilization.
And what are the grand coalitions telling Europe that is emerging from the crisis?
Isn't all of this just driving the voters in Europe apart instead of bringing them together? The citizens of Europe are not blind to these political games which have tired people in many places, whilst the world is moving towards other horizons.
The truth is that Europe has to be spoken of every - single - day. No national government measure should be presented to the citizens as it is to their parliament without explaining how it fits in to what is happening in Europe. Everyone has now understood that there are swathes of government action that can only be undertaken in cooperation with our closest neighbours, who are, quite precisely, our partners in the Union. People should now also know that this partnership will in no way threaten national identities and the specific features of each nation, which together, make an irreplaceable contribution to the world. Europe is a bonus for government action, not a constraint or a loss.
Some are trying to rekindle old rivalries whilst the European Union is already more federal than anything the Founding Fathers might have imagined. It is more inter-governmental that any of its eternal denigrators ever dreamed it could be.
The poverty of the debate reflects a true European crisis. It is moral before being economic and social.
Europe is the source of envy on the outside; quite wrongly some want us to despair of it from within. Only common sense and reason can help us overcome this difficult period.