Following this year’s election results in the Netherlands and France, many in the media, politics, and academia were quick to announce the death of euroscepticism. Whether they know it or not, 2017 has proved these voices wrong. 2016 was no anomaly, and euroscepticism never died—it’s bigger than ever. Here’s why…
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since this blog’s first post. Much has changed since the Brexit vote, but you can always count on The Eurosceptic to cover important events, introduce new arguments, and defend the right of all peoples to self-determination.
More democracy is never a bad thing, especially in the case of opaque organisations such as the EU. However, attempts to engineer pan-EU democratic institutions ignore a key factor preventing them from ever working: there is no European demos.
Seven decades without armed conflict between major powers is something to be celebrated. However, the notion that lasting peace in Europe is thanks to the gradual federalisation of European nations is contestable at best, and dangerous at worst. If anything, today’s EU is fuelling more conflict across the continent than it resolves.
European political and economic integration has been enabled by broad consensus across many parties and nations. Socialists, conservatives, industry, environmentalists, and cultural minorities all saw their aspirations reflected in the EU. Today, many of these groups no longer see themselves in the European project, fuelling growing euroscepticism from the very same factions that helped the EU come about.
Headlines denouncing democratic movements as “populist” have proliferated in recent years. These comments rarely define what populism means, and almost all shed those accused of it in a negative light. The tactic of pejoratively calling populist any person or movement questioning governing structures is not only unhelpful, it endangers progress.
2016 was undoubtedly an important year for euroscepticism. Most notably, Britain’s decision to cease its European Union (EU) membership shattered the notion of European integration’s inevitability. The peoples of Europe are waking up to the enormous price they’ve paid for EU membership, and will continue to in 2017.
2016 will join years like 1968, 1989, and 2001 as a “year that changed everything”. With a particular focus on European integration, The Eurosceptic has ranked the ten most significant events of the year reflecting a shift against more Brussels, and towards more sovereignty.
On his last international trip as president, Barack Obama gave an important speech in Athens on democracy. In it, he hailed European integration as “one of the great political and economic achievements of human history.” He is right to defend democracy, but his comments betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the European Union, which has been an undemocratic organization from its inception. Democracy is on the rise in Europe, and whatever comes next cannot include the EU.
The small Belgian region of Wallonia held up the 7-year Canada-EU trade agreement process in October. Though some argue this is overreach by a small constituency, effectively hijacking the trade deal, this is far from being the case. Wallonia’s decision reflects the genuine concerns of many Europeans, who have not yet had the opportunity to be heard.