Stanley's blog

The Financial Times first leader of 19 June hits the nail on the head. “It is time the EU leaders went out and sold their success story to their voters.”

Voters will not appreciate the importance of the EU to them unless their leaders explain the importance of the Union and its relevance to their everyday lives. Unfortunately, they are prone to presenting Brussels negotiations as a zero sum game, indeed a ‘them and us’ battle, rather than admitting that they are the central part of the decision-making process.

Maybe at the root of their reluctance is an unwillingness to admit that their room for manoeuvre at national level in economic and social policies is severely circumscribed.

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  1. It’s time they did, but face it: they will not.

    What incentive do ‘leaders’ of Member States have to go out and explain the EU? None. Their own futures do not depend on it, and when a politician’s future does not depend on something then they are non-plussed about it.

    The only way to solve this issue is for there to be a democratically accountable executive at European level that does this work.

  2. I think Jon is right when saying that only an EU leader democratically elected should be accountable. Democratic legitimacy comes from elections. As General de Gaulle said, it gives the “onction du peuple”. This also raises the issue of the appointment of EU top-level officials, namely the President of the European Commission and of the European Council…

  3. Moreover, if national leaders would start presenting EU successes as positive change brought about because of the EU then they would also have to present failures of their nation-state as failures of their nation-state and not of the EU.

    EU leaders will (unfortunately) not always present EU successes as what they are because a success of the EU will not strengthen their mandate whereas a success of the government will.

    I would go so far as to say that some EU leaders are quite content with how things work at the moment as it offers them the chance to gain support by claiming the credit for a ‘European achievement’ and on the other hand point towards Brussels for policies that the people might be less enthusiastic about. EU leaders know that increasing positive information about the EU will also result in less potential to brand EU successes as national successes as well as national failures as EU failures.

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