Europa United editor, Adam Snygg, looks at why the EU is an easy target for hate and derision, but provides a strong opinion on why it shouldn’t be.
Let’s see. Since I started publicly supporting the federalization of the EU I’ve been called: a communist, a Nazi, a neoliberal, a bleeding heart, a fascist, a “commufascist”, a wimp, a murderer and a member of a world-spanning conspiracy named the Illuminati. One of these is correct; you may guess yourself which one. As others who have taken a stance in defence of our Union have discovered, it’s damn easy to hate the EU and for a lot of reasons – some of which are mutually exclusive. Few other organizations receive criticism from such a variety of sources. Why is that so?
There are several parts to it, but the main reason is annoyingly simple: the EU is a handy target. It’s supra-national, so all the national parties can score points for blaming it. What’s more, if you preach exit from the EU the answer is simple: just do it. Exit is proactive, it seems like a bold attack on the status quo and it makes for some great slogans. You can play on ideas of secession and of “taking back rights”, grand phrases, signifying nothing. As we saw during the Brexit debates, you don’t even have to come up with a plan for what happens afterwards. Easy solutions are easy to argue for; hard ones are equally hard. And since the EU tries to make the world better for everyone, everyone can also make pot shots at it, from die-hard communists to the alt-right, from social democrats to liberal thinkers. Everyone can offer simple solutions to complex problems.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. Hating the EU is that wrong answer. All of these weaknesses are superficial. I don’t agree with everything the EU does – as it most likely has parts that you, the reader, disagree with – but the things most often cited against our Union are either lies or hot air. The things that cause EU criticism are the very things that make the EU good.
The EU drives people together, ironically even when they don’t want to. Just look at the cooperation between anti-European parties! That’s an ironic cooperation if I ever saw one. The EU is not driven by cheap propaganda. Easy solutions are rarely solutions at all. Think back on your own choices and you will see that most solutions that worked took either hard work or a lot of brains – or both.
And, maybe most importantly, the EU is malleable. One of the reasons the EU gets flak from all directions is its lack of a common history. We are part of a young union and that should not get you worried, it should get you excited! It certainly does so for me. A young malleable union can be shaped as we want it today, but there is only one way we can get it to be what we want – through constant democratic work, a struggle that will stretch over a lifetime. And, hopefully, at the end we will have created something beautiful.
And that something might still be easy to hate, but it won’t be, because we will know we’ve created something good together.