EU's credibility problem

Demonstrations in summit cities have awakened EU leaders to a harsh reality: the institutions built over citizens' heads are not as firmly grounded as the leaders imagine. This is the conclusion of Helsingin Sanomat (21 July 2001) in a leading article.

"The relationship between citizens and the Union has been problematic right from the start: actually there has never been any close relationship between ordinary European people and the institutions. The European Union which was created after the war has been a distant inter-governmental organisation which citizens find difficult to identify with as their own. Neither have direct elections for the European Parliament made the relatisonship closer."

Helsingin Sanomat points out that according to polls, the EU's credibility has weakened in Finnish eyes. One of the reasons could be that enlargement to the East has not been explained in a way that would make people feel positive about it.

The newspaper uses the Genoa summit as an example of the gap between the Union and its citizens. The European political elite has been meeting in a luxury cruiser, surrounded by a wall of soldiers, police and security men.

"The EU leadership cannot seriously imagine that citizens who pay for it all don't understand how far removed their everyday life and problems are from the life style of their leaders. Any form of spin should be dismissed immediately. Citizens see through them. Criticism can be met only if people feel that they are living in a secure and economically successful Europe where they can plan their future with a peaceful mind. If politicians succeed in this, there will be less need for security men."

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