Even if the consent has increased following the Brexit referendum, a still considerable part of the population does not think much of the European Union. Euroscepticism and populism are existent on the whole continent. What is the reason for this?
All EU countries have joint core values in common, the rule of law and human rights. EU funds create jobs, promote the youth and support climate protection. Regions and cities work closely together with their European neighbours. This sounds good and in fact, numerous studies underline how much the citizens benefit from the EU.
Nevertheless, many people are dissatisfied. They do for example not agree with Brussel’s handling of migration. Others consider the economic policy to be the main problem. They find it unfair that money was available to rescue banks while money for social projects was often missing. They have in common that they make the EU also responsible for the difficult situation.
All this shows that politics has to find solutions which function well for everyone and everywhere – in agglomerations but also in peripheral areas. Especially in small remote places, as shown by the article of Dijkstra, Poelman and Rodríguez-Pose in this issue, the Euroscepticism is very strong. Populists find many voters especially in those areas whose economies have declined in the past. Poor education, lacking jobs and a low per capita GDP are also a breeding ground for Euro-sceptical parties.
To fund the remote regions must therefore have priority in future. This is why the German discussion about equivalent living conditions is also part of this issue. It is similar to the debate about territorial cohesion in Europe – and may help to counteract the inequivalence.
The true potential of the Continent may anyway only be exploited by even more countries, regions, cities and citizens of the EU cooperating across borders and learning from each other. Actors from Weil am Rhein, Bremerhaven, from Skåne in Sweden, Carinthia in Austria and the Scottish Highlands and Islands tell in this issue how such a cooperation might look like.
Includes English- and German-speaking articles.
Jens Kurnol (
Sina Redlich (
Volker Schmidt-Seiwert (
Daniel Regnery, Friederike Vogel