Europe: a Crucial and Promising Land for the Left
Europe is a political reality and a fundamental part of our daily lives. As citizens, workers, managers, consumers and students, Europe concerns us all.
Europe is where decisions are taken and norms are set up. They all have a direct or indirect impact on our everyday lives. Europe is a place of power which political parties must invest in order to give it partisan colours. Europe is not predefined. It is neither neo-liberal nor social-democratic: Europe is what we decide to make of it.
Nevertheless, while the European Parliament’s powers are increasing, turning it into a real co-legislator, citizens’ support for Europe dwindles and criticism of a Europe governed by Brussels and technocrats strengthens. This paradox reveals a growing gap between the increasing European management of the jurisdictional and decision-making powers, and the structuring of public space and political thinking, which mainly remains a domestic issue.
This feeling of rejection is even stronger for progressives: while the European Union has become a key political element to lead their efforts, they are having difficulties using it as a real asset.
In a time of economic, social and environmental crisis, the need for Europe, for “more Europe”, is confirmed both on the left and on the right. As European economies are becoming closely interdependent, it is utopian to think of reform and effective protection of the social model on a merely national level. The encouragement and conservation of a social and economic model that is better regulated, united and more sustainable, is unthinkable without the European Union.
Yet progressive forces show little involvement in European issues. Some progressives even perceive Europe as two opposite concepts: on the one hand, they consider it as a humanist, peaceful and multicultural project, and on the other, they see it as a cause of excessive liberalism, social dumping and austerity policies. This lack of European commitment partly explains why the progressive family is now struggling to seize the political opportunity that has arisen with the crisis. Why aren’t they convincing people as they should be doing when the economic situation is proving them right?
The citizens’ loss of interest goes hand in hand with the progressives’ disenchantment. The atrophy of the reformist speech on Europe does not allow room for European debate that brings together political alternatives which citizens relate to. Hence the image of a remote Europe dictating laws from Brussels and national governments’ hypocrisy bemoaning these regulations to their electors which they had nonetheless adopted while taking credit for those European policies seen as successful.
This vicious circle must be reversed: progressive parties have to play their part on the European level in order to reply to citizens’ concerns and create a proper European political debate. In a word: take ownership of Europe to politicize it.
EuroCité is a social-democratic, European think-tank led by a multidisciplinary team of young researchers, jurists, men and women involved in politics, senior officials and experts from the private sector. Its aim is to contribute to the development of a vision and a progressive programme for Europe. To do so, EuroCité publishes in-depth studies on key European issues, combining analytical rigour and programmatic goals. Furthermore, EuroCité aims at following and commenting the European political, intellectual and cultural current affairs on a daily basis through a blog and the publication of opinion papers, interviews and book reviews.
Europe is a vital and promising political territory: it is up to us, progressive forces, to make it prosper.