The Future of Europe was always a constant source of concern for those who put their hopes for a brighter future. Acting as if the next European elections scheduled for May 2019 will not have a crucial role for the EU would be a great mistake.

The latest events showed how fragile the EU still is: Brexit, rising populism, Trump’s foreign policy towards the EU, Islamic State, the shadow of a new economic crisis, migration, Russian threat and the persistent two-speed Europe are all very dangerous challenges whose full impact has not been felt yet.

It is now clear that the EU needs its citizens to overcome these issues and others, but are they ready to support the EU in this dramatic moment?

 

According to the most recent surveys requested by the European Commission (Eurobarometer), only 47% of Europeans trust the EU[1]. “More than eight in ten Europeans agree that turnout at European elections would be higher if more information was provided about: the impact that the EU has on their daily lives (84%), the programs and objectives of candidates and parties in the European Parliament (83%), and the EP elections in general (82%)”[2]. These results show that the EU needs to work on its electoral campaign if it really wants to promote democracy and increase electoral participation which was very law at the last European elections in 2014 (43.09%). Therefore before thinking of rallying European citizens, the EU needs to implement a new electoral strategy in order to mobilise people to vote. A higher electoral participation would mean higher interest in EU politics and higher concern about EU future. In reality, if the EU electoral campaign remains the same as the previous one, it is most likely that the situation will not change in terms of political participation and consequently it will probably decrease more the trust of Europeans in the EU. A scenario like that should be avoided knowing how much the EU is currently under pressure.

An higher electoral participation would mean higher interest in EU politics and higher concern about EU future.

One suggestion would be to invest in media coverage and to develop a special institutional communication plan for the European elections which would start one year prior to the fixed date of vote. For instance, the EU could negotiate with national and international television channels a better media coverage of the European elections in exchange of greater facilities of access to EU institutions for national and international journalists. Another option would be to focus the most of DG COMM’s work during 2018 on promoting European elections by using all types of mass media as social media, television, pamphlets, publicity or even mass events. Gathering journalists and raising awareness among the greatest possible number of them about the importance of European elections is another idea that could help the transmission of a maximum of information to European citizens. Reshaping EU communication policy is therefore necessary to improve the relationship between EU institutions and European citizens and, by extension, European citizens’ trust in the EU. However, is the EU the only actor who should rethink its communication approach? Certainly not, European political parties have equal responsibility for promoting democracy, increasing electoral participation and mobilising European citizens.

Priority should be given more to Europe and less to national interests in the Progressive movement political agenda, mainly at regional and national levels.

Progressives worked hard to mobilise Millennials and it is a very good strategy to raise political awareness among young people but what about other groups of the population? Knowing that most Eurosceptic votes come from seniors, as was shown in the last different national elections, it is essential to target this age class. In fact, the Progressive movement needs not only to help the EU in its efforts to reshape its communication policy but also to implement a new communication strategy that will aim to target all age groups and better influence voting behaviour. One of the most important functions of a political actor is to provide citizens with a concrete social ideal and to ensure it; priority should be given more to Europe and less to national interests in the Progressive movement political agenda, mainly at regional and national levels. Indeed, increasing European citizens’ trust in the EU can only be achieved by convincing them of the importance of the European construction. Seniors can play a major role in supporting Progressives and reorienting European policies. Maybe the results of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum (2016) would have been different if the Progressive movement would have influenced more seniors.

In short, this text aimed to highlight the importance of trust between the EU, its political parties and citizens within the context of the next European elections. EU citizens should have more faith in the EU to be able to overcome together the great challenges that they are facing for years. May 2019 is going to be a highly symbolic year; the Future of Europe could be irreversibly impacted and Progressives really can influence Europe’s destiny by improving their information campaign.

[1] April 2017 Eurobarometer’s Report.

[2] March 2016 Eurobarometer’s Report.