To destroy is always much easier than to build, or even to preserve. This is truer in a world like ours, where we are pushed to immediately and instinctively react to quick slogans by liking, sharing or moving on to the next tweet or post whose topic is completely different from the previous one. Moreover, the time and attention we should use to make sure of the validity of the content we share get less and less. In such a world, people that want to mystify, oversimplify or extremise can easily prosper.
Instead, all the great social projects, including the European unification, are undergoing a serious crisis further deepened by the chaotic condition of our communication. It is in fact very easy for those who disagree with the integration process between our countries to spread out fast-food like theories like: the European Union is not working; it’s too bureaucratic and inefficient; it suffocates the freedom of our people and our citizens; it does not protect us or help us; it is neither fair nor charming… The European Union is a mess, why do you keep defending it? How can you call yourself a pro-European? Why do you insist on further integration?
It is much harder to tell why the European Union does not work as it should and could. It is less profitable to tell that it is the selfishness of its member states and lobbies, the mediocrity of our political class only eager to get short term gain from the public opinion that prevent Europe from providing us with more opportunities, security, well-being and a better future for the future generations. As a result, we are told slogans meant to destroy instead of creating, to simplify instead of analysing and criticizing, to poison instead of curing.
This kind of communication is really successful in spreading populism. A populist promises easy solutions to difficult problems, quick results for long term processes. He believes that globalization can be tackled by addressing the problems that arise locally because they seem easier to address. He believes that the good old nation state can control its destiny by protecting the purity of its economy, culture and traditions.
And then there is the pro European. A pro-European is never a mere defender of the current European Union. In reality, all true pro-Europeans see the EU as imperfect, bureaucratic and in need of profound and radical changes. The most convinced pro-Europeans, the federalists, even believe that the EU should be replaced by a real European federation, a sort of “United States of Europe”. Of course, they do not intend to import the American system. They simply underline by contrast the intergovernmental approach that currently lies behind the European Union, made of continuous negotiations between member states that only care about their national interests.
What future awaits a Europe made up of little states, less and less relevant on the global scene by the day if confronted with the US, China, India and Russia? Populists do not take time to answer this question, probably because it doesn’t fit their purpose of demolishing the current European Union. They might not realize that in doing so, they risk to destroy also the idea of a different and better Europe, capable of ensuring a future to the continent.
In order to overcome the chaotic condition of our communication and to see the promise of a united Europe grow strong, we should start explaining and spreading this simple concept: to love and to believe in the project of a united Europe does not mean to accept what the European Union is today, it means to imagine and bring about further developments. Besides, the United States of America were not built in a day and they even had to go through a terrible civil war decades after they were born. The selfishness of the small homelands is something we cannot afford, if we don’t want them to become smaller, weaker and more insignificant by the day.
Translation thanks to the Stand Up for Europe translators team