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Without stars in their eyes -  Il Sole-24 Ore/ Presseurop

Record abstention for the elections this year come as no surprise, writes Il Sole 24 Ore. Confined to economic and geopolitical priorities, the European project, born out of the post-war reconciliation, no longer inspires.

Ever since we began electing our European representatives by universal suffrage in 1979, MEPs have seen their powers - both legislative and budgetary - wax as voter interest waned. Voter turnout, then 62%, dwindled to 45.4% in 2004. People keep saying Europe is a mysterious and remote entity. That is not true. Sometimes incomprehensible, to be sure, but definitely not remote. 80% of our national legislation originates in the Community matrix, produced by the Council of Ministers every bit as much as by the European Parliament. Our euro currency, interest rates, the fight against inflation and mega-deficits, studies, passport-free travel, safety standards, the environment, consumption: Europe is part and parcel of our day-to-day lives in these and plenty of other domains.

If Europe didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. It has provided a providential shelter from the storms we are now weathering - globalisation, the emergence of the colossal Chinese, Indian and Brazilian powerhouses, the current global socio-economic crisis. Admittedly, the model is not perfect, but it is an invaluable regional shock absorber for its Member States, whose national governments can no longer cope with global upheavals on their own.

And yet Europe is not understood by its people, eliciting only apathy - even outright hostility. According to the latest opinion poll by TNS Opinion, which came out just a few days ago, half the electorate (49%) will go to the polls. Assuming these forecasts hold true, the theorem of Europeans' mounting disaffection towards a Union that neither maltreats nor ignores any of its 27 member countries will remain an insoluble enigma.

Why is Europe steadily losing popularity?

by Fran on Sun Jun 7th, 2009 at 01:25:47 PM EST
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