In this European debate we traditionally have two opposing views.
Sovereignists or so-called nationalists on the one hand, who appeal to our patriotism, to our love of the Nation, and defend a France that cannot accept any diktat, be it European.
Pro-Europeans on the other hand, who appeal to our reason and defend a strong France within the European Union to fight on equal terms and influence globalisation.
What both sides have in common is a great love of France.
Both could be considered as nationalists, because beyond any political appropriation, what else is nationalism than to love and want to defend one’s nation…
It all depends on the method…
The debate could have been easily decided by each citizen, if other factors had not intervened.
First of all, the State, or its successive governments, which blamed Europe for every unpopular measure, under the same slogan « It’s not us, it’s Europe ».
The result has been at best a slow but irreversible mistrust, at worst a real aversion to this distant yet constraining Europe.
Then there is the way Europe works, from the proportional voting system for its representatives to the unanimous decision-making process, which everyone understands, without having been to ENA, is a source of deadlock and, above all, that in this Europe, France’s voice only counts for one twenty-seventh…
The decisions of the European Commission, including the abandonment of Péchiney, or more recently the prohibition of the Alstom/Siemens merger, will remain high points of popular incomprehension, the source of the best of rejections, and which illustrate that Europe did not understand in time that its legislation on monopolies could no longer be applied in utero, i.e. between European countries.
Finally, historical amnesia. In these economic and social difficulties that we are experiencing, in this uncertainty of tomorrow, do we still have time to dwell on the past?
If we did, our memory would come back to us and we would see all that Europe has given us and enabled us to do: the restructuring of our agriculture with the aid of the CAP, funding for our research and development policy, European cooperation programmes for our researchers, exchange and opening programmes for our students, etc.
We would then understand that Europe is not the business of all, a generic and distant term, but the business of everyone.
It would then be clear that we need to reform the way this Europe works and not reject it outright.
This would undoubtedly lead to a change in behaviour, and primarily to a wider vote in the European elections, which has so far always broken all records for abstention.
This is what this new debate on Europe is all about: bringing Europe back into the hearts and minds of every citizen!