Controversies concerning the draft treaty establishing a constitution for Europe, conflicts related to the Eurozone crisis, and tensions resulting from the refugee crisis have not only fuelled an intense public debate in most EU Member States, but have also given rise to many impressionistic and alarmist comments that need to be put into perspective on the basis of sound data and robust and substantiated analyses.
This is the great merit of the Study conducted by Daniel Debomy, a renowned specialist in the analysis of European public opinion trends who, on the basis of the valuable Eurobarometer surveys, painstakingly stresses for which issues and to what extent EU citizens have been able to change their opinion on the EU over this “decade of crises”.
1. One of the first political lessons of this Study is that citizens’ perception of their country’s membership to the EU and the benefits it enjoys from this membership remained positive throughout the period, and was even more positive in 2015 than in 2005 in a significant proportion of Member States.
2. The second political lesson is that the EU’s image and the level of trust that its citizens express in it were, however, subject to a sharp decline between 2005 and 2015.
3. The third political lesson is to stress that what has stood out in public debate on the EU in the last decade is not so much its democratic deficit, or the traditional split between Brussels and the people but much more a divide between peoples of the EU, which is just as important a challenge for the champions and practitioners of European construction.
This is one more reason to hope that European and national authorities and additionally all citizens involved in public debate on the EU may consider and debate Daniel Debomy’s Study, in order to formulate analyses and initiatives based on more solid political and democratic foundations.