Elections to the European Parliament in May will have a special significance. They will either help the EU regain public trust or let it sink further: it’s a “make it or break it” game.
Europhiles want to stick to the EU because the end of European integration is likely to hamper businesses and take Europe back to old style geopolitics with numerous destabilizing implications. They want to reform the EU, but they cannot imagine integration without it.
Eurosceptics have little trust in the EU’s ability to reform itself. They want to bring power back home from Brussels and replace European integration by inter-state cooperation.
Both groups are right and wrong on some issues, which means that neither Plan A nor Plan B is ideal. Eurosceptics are right to argue that reforming the EU is a hopeless exercise. In today’s huge and multi-layered Union, bold reforms are contentious while timid ones are useless. Would people rush to the ballot box in May if they were told that the European Parliament is no longer to travel between Strasbourg and Brussels? And does anybody believe that a president of the European Commission elected by a popular vote will be able to bridge differences between creditor and debtor states within the EU?