The rise of the euroscepticism and the bad communication between elected and appointed elites and citizens

Author:Marcela Monica Stoica
Position:Phd, Lecturer
Phd, Lecturer, Marcela Monica STOICA1
Alongside the history of European Union there were some members that were traditionally Euro
skeptical. But the last events and Euro-barometers indicate a worrying rise of this phenomenon and
the consolidation of the anti-system parties. We believe and try to demonstrate that the cause of all
these are not only the economic and financial crises but the lack of trust and cooperation, between the
two fundamental actors involved in political process of the Union, the political establishment and the
European citizens.
Keywords: Euro skeptical; communication, leadership, European citizens.
1. Introduction
The European Community has therefore evolved from a dominant economic
community to a political and monetary union that has placed the focus on
European citizenship on European political parties. The actual treaty, The Treaty of
Lisbon puts citizens in the center of the European project2”.
Our hypothesis is that the relations between citizens and European elites has to be
a process of communication, in each field, a constant process of negotiating. So we are
speaking about two parts in relations. This relationship should be an ongoing
negotiation between voters and elected based on dialogue and transparency and can
be punished when citizens feel that their interests are not represented anymore by this
politic body.
This ideal and dream should be the aim of the continuators of the founding
fathers. Therefore, it is explained that the main message that dominated the discourse
on the crisis facing the EU and the Euro zone has been a call for solidarity.
As EU’s history shown, the dynamics of EU-citizens and the democratic process
evolved gradually and spectacularly. The European Union is one of the institutional
constructions very concerned by its democratic legimitacy, the degree of transparency
and proximity to national political systems.
Throughout its evolution, the European Parliament made an important
contribution to ensuring the legitimacy of the Community’s institutional system and
1 e-mail: mms_stoica
2 www.europeancomission/presidency, accesed on th 15th of October 2017.
Law Review vol. III, Special issue 2017, pp. 230-236
The rise of euroscepticism and the bad communication... 231
successive amendments of the treaties have increased the role of the European
Parliament and improved communication with citizens.
The study of European parliamentarianism highlighted the new challenges faced
by parliamentary activity and the requirements of its adaptation to the contemporary
socio-political context, depending on the diversity of national practices. Contrary to
increasing criticism, parliamentarism has strengthened, remaining the cornerstone of
European democracy.3
Debates on the democratic deficit of the European institutions have led, first, to
an increase in the role of the European Parliament and, subsequently, to measures
relating to the transparency of its activities. Another important element was the
knowledge and improvement of the parliamentary procedures specific to this
original European institution, as well as the Community political system in which
it operates, enshrined in the White Paper of European Governance4.
Over time, the European Parliament has acquired attributes characteristic of
national parliaments: financial independence, internal organization, democratic
system of choice, immunity, parliamentary status, unification of European electoral
procedures, parliamentary group structure, etc. The European elites and its leaders
realized the important of communication and negotiations in order to get voters.
Giovanni Sartori while talking about the role of the Elites in setting up a
dynamic political equilibrium, he writes that the effect is generated by a problem
of conception, it is important how the political elites perceived power and the
game of power. In order for elites to have a positive influence, it should perceived
the political as a continuous negations (politics –as- bargaining), but when the elite
perceives politics like conflict, confrontation, war (politics- as -war) there is a great
chances for crisis and instability5.
EU hard-bargaining of the accession negotiations were bruising to the national
sense of sovereignty of countries that had newly regained it. Thus, although
becoming members of the EU was in some sense sovereignty and identity-enhancing,
it was at the same time a threat to the newly developing identities of these newly-
sovereign nations. This may help explain the backlash we have seen in recent years
by Central and Eastern European Countries elites against European integration, with
the rise of populism accompanying anti-European discourse in some such countries.
Rather, to contribute to more positive attitudes towards European integration, the
regional goals achieved in Brussels must be communicated to the constituents at
European Democracy is a political founding principle and is the expectance of
the millions of citizens like a treasure.
3 Oliver Costa, E. Kerrouche, P. Magnette, Vers un renouveau du parlementarisme en Europe,
Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2004.
4 COM (2001) 428.
5 Giovanni Sartori, “Anti-elitism Revisited”, in Government and Opposition, 1987, p.224 apud
Vasile Dancu, Elite fara putere, pp. 4-5, #Sinteza 40, mai-iunie 2017.
6Anna Olsson, Euroscepticism Revisited - Regional Interest Representation in Brussels and the
Link to Citizen Attitudes towards European Integration, paper prepared for delivery at the 11th
Biennial International Conference of the European Union Studies Association, Los Angeles, Cali-
fornia, April 23-25, 2009.
The Venice Commission has adopted a similar concept, recognizing the principle
of „European electoral heritage”, based on democratic common values: universal,
equal, free, secret and direct vote7. Most existing studies of voter preferences towards
European integration have focused either upon the sources of voter preferences or
upon party views towards integration
2. Accessions and rising of the Euroscepticism
Accession appears to be both a blessing and a curse to transition countries. On the
one hand, EU membership supports their transformation from authoritarian regimes
with centralized planning economies into liberal democracies with market economies.
On the other hand, the accession countries face great difficulties in restructuring
their economic and political institutions in order to meet the conditions for EU
membership. The systematic involvement of non-state actors in the adoption of and
adaptation to EU requirements was thought to be a remedy for the problems of
European enlargement towards „weak” transition countries. Companies and civil
society organizations could provide the governments of the accession countries with
important resources (money, information, expertise, support) that are necessary to
make EU policies work.
Rising Euroscepticism and domestic political point-scoring pose an existential
threat to the EU.
Britain’s decision to leave has helped dissuade some political leaders from
continuing to attack the bloc, said Jyrki Katainen, a commission vice-president.
Katainen suggested Britain’s EU referendum result had shown political leaders how
dangerous it was to fuel anti-EU sentiment. „Brexit remedied this a bit”, he added8.
„Many governments saw that you can all of a sudden find you are in a place you
never thought you can be – if you order something you most probably can get it”.
„Citizens’ expectation are way higher than what the general perception is. The
majority of the people are supporting integration in the eurozone area and the euro
as a currency, but there are a whole range of issues, including defence, counter-
terrorism, climate change, some social policy issues, where people would like to
transfer power from national to EU level.
We can see how voters across Europe are rejecting the EU’s principles and
policies in favour of more populist ideals – and fears in Brussels that Brexit could
prompt a wave of anti-EU feeling appear to have been realised.
The Czech Republic became the latest EU country to turn on Brussels this
weekend after Andrej Babis, a eurosceptic, anti-immigration, pro-Russian billionaire,
won the leadership election9. Babis, who has been described as the ‘Czech Donald
7 Commission de Venice, Le Patrimoine électoral européen 2002; Code de bonne conduite en
matière électorale, Strasbourg, Conseil de l’Europe, 2003.
to- leave-says-ec-vice-president,/accesed on th 16th of October 2017.
election-germany-czech-republic-austria-latest-elections/ accesed on th 16th of October 2017.
The rise of euroscepticism and the bad communication... 233
Trump’, won 29.6 per cent of the vote at the weekend, or 78 out of 200 seats in the
lower house, in a result that no doubt sent shockwaves through Brussels. Meanwhile
the rightwing, anti-immigration Freedom and Direct Democracy party, which wants
to quit the EU and stop the ‘Islamisation of the Czech Republic’, won more than 10
per cent of the vote and could become a coalition partner of the new leader in a
move which would show a clear turn away from the EU in Prague10.
Despite the deadlock between both sides of the Brexit debate and repeated
threats about the eye-watering divorce bill Brussels expects Britain to pay, it appears
the UK’s decision to leave has not prompted the remaining 27 EU members to
come together in support of the bloc.
While leaders across the continent try to adopt a united front, voters continue
to express their dismay at the European Union with increasing numbers opting for
Eurosceptic and populist parties.
Last month, the rightwing AfD party surged to third place in the German
election, taking 13 per cent of the vote and marking the first time in almost 60 years
that an openly nationalist party has secured seats in the Bundestag. Neighbouring
Austria has also made its anti-EU feelings known, electing 31-year-old eurosceptic
Sebastian Kurz to become the country’s new chancellor.
3. Mapping the Eurosceptics
We present the map of how anti-EU sentiment is spreading across Europe. The
source is from the European Parliament. As we can see the map reveals the most
Eurosceptic countries on the continent, as a string of European Union member
states including Italy saying they have been let down by the bloc.
vote-election-germany-czech-republic-austria-latest -elections/ accesed on th 17th of October 2017.
France-EU/ accesed on th 17th of October 2017.
The map shows the three states are now hubs of euroscepticism. According to the
‘Parlemeter’ survey, based on face-to-face interviews with citizens from all 28 member
states, the European Union faces a battle for survival in Italy, Greece and Cyprus.
In total 27,881 EU nationals across the bloc were asked: „Taking everything
into account, would you say that your country has on balance benefited from or
not from being a member of the EU?”
Italy recorded the lowest percentage of people who responded by saying their
country had benefited: just 39 per cent. On the other hand we remark the
consistently declining turnout rates in European Parliament elections.
The rise of euroscepticism and the bad communication... 235
Greece also saw more than a majority of people shun the ‘benefited’ option,
with only 48 per cent of people responding in this manner. Cyprus, too, saw just 45
per cent say their country had benefited due to its membership of the bloc, during
the poll which took place between September 23 and October 2 this year.
The UK, France, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Austria all saw less than 60
per cent of respondents say their country had benefited from EU membership
Topping the chart was Ireland, where 90 per cent said the country had benefited.
Malta, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Denmark and Estonia all recorded scores
of at least 80 per cent.
Despite the low scores of approval recorded in several major EU states, Brussels
leaders said they were pleased with the results. European Parliament president
Antonio Tajani said the „positive and encouraging” results actually gave him a
greater mandate to push or more influence. He said: „The result of the survey is very
positive and encouraging. It shows that the confidence in our institutions and our
work continues to grow and that we are leaving the crisis of recent years behind.
Naturally, in some areas, views vary from member state to member state. This should
inspire us to step up our efforts to tackle the concerns expressed.
„In general, people increasingly see the EU as a key player in tackling the big
challenges and protecting them against common threats such as terrorism,
unemployment or poverty and exclusion.“For us, as the people’s Parliament, that
means we need to deliver and that we will work even harder to fulfill people’s
hopes and expectations. I also take the results of the survey as a mandate for the
European Parliament to increase its key role in shaping the EU’s future.
And, finally he said: „The best forum for debate on what the EU should look
like, what tasks it should perform, or what powers it should have, is here, in the
European Parliament12”.
4. Conclusions
The citizen support for the EU is of utmost importance to its legitimacy.
Citizens have to have trust in their leaders and parties they represent because
they will do the legislation for all of us. The populism (as we saw above) increase
the eurosceptism as the populist an nationalist leaders promise a lot and always
find the escape goat. It seems that are very good communicators in sending their
message and so, in winning the citizens votes.
Belot, Céline, Cautrès, Bruno, Vers une espace public européen? Les élections
européennes de juin 2004, Etudes et Recherches no.40, Notre Europe.
France-EU/ accesed on th 17th of October 2017.
Costa, Oliver, E. Kerrouche, P. Magnette, Vers un renouveau du parlementarisme
en Europe, Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2004
Dancu, Vasile, Elite fara putere,, #Sinteza 40, mai-iunie 2017, pp. 4-5
Sartori, Giovanni, “Anti-elitism Revisited”, in Government and Opposition,
1987, p.224
leaders- off-wanting-to-leave-says-ec-vice-president
https://www.ex /news/worl d/870029/eu-news-brexit-eurosceptic-