Daniel Korski 20.10.16

“Over the last couple of years, the EU — an extraordinary project of continental peacemaking and economic liberalization — has become increasingly distant from voters. It has struggled with the contradictions laid bare by the euro crisis and come up against the limits of its attraction, in Turkey and on its border with Russia. The resulting impression is of a Continent lurching from crisis to crisis.

European leaders have been unwilling or incapable of reversing an institutional logic, in which the European Commission, egged on by the European Parliament, has increasingly interfered in the minutiae of daily life, even as the European Council — where the national leaders gather — has grown ever less powerful on anything that does not regard the eurozone. In the so-called trilogues — in which officials from the three major EU institutions meet to hash out directives — the Commission and the Parliament often steamroller the Council.

This trend reached its apotheosis with the application of the concept of Spitzenkandidaten for the position of European Commission president. According to this idea — not mentioned in the EU treaties and dreamt up by federalists like European Parliament President Martin Schulz — the president would be selected by the political group that won the most seats in the European parliamentary elections. What had traditionally been an appointment by ’s elected leaders and approved by Parliament became the choice, in large part, of a legislature seen in most European countries, quite rightly, as less legitimate than national institutions.

As a result of changes like this one, the main impression of the EU across the Continent was of an enterprise no longer delivering for Europeans. A survey of 10,000 Europeans across 10 countries by Pew Research earlier this year found that a majority of people felt unfavorably towards the EU in Greece (71 percent) and France (61 percent). The EU was seen more unfavorably in Spain (49 percent) than in the U.K. (48 percent). A popular cause Europe was not.”

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