Regardless of a Bremain or Brexit

Regardless of today’s UK Referendum and the resulting Bremain or Brexit, the European Union has a huge problem. It dates from well before the UK Referendum. For this referendum is not the first sign, many EU citizens have had it with the EU.

There was the recent Dutch referendum against ratification of an agreement. Many Dutch voters used it to vent their displeasure and dissatisfaction with the EU. Plenty of those who are allowed to take part in the UK Referendum, share such feelings. Similar feelings and calls for exits exist in other EU member states.

Meanwhile, there is hardly any response from the EU Parliament, its MEPs, its figure-heads, its powerbrokers, its PR people. One wonders what fossils are stuck in the EU’s many ivory towers in say Brussels or Strasbourg.

The dissatisfaction with EU politicians, politics, decisions and the rest, is not just caused by the refugee crisis. EU institutions, politicians, officials, what the whole EU costs, is not seen as positive or improving the life of its citizens. Media love to exploit this negative perception. It is also cleverly used by those in favour of exits from the Union.

What is the EU’s response?

Has any EU citizen a clear idea of how taxpayer’s money, handed over to the EU, is actually spent? Does the average EU-citizen have any idea how much money, funds, financial benefits are ploughed back by the EU into his or her country? How many EU laws, affecting the EU region, affect them in a positive, or negative way?

Take living expenses for MEPs. How many EU citizens know how much their MEPs receive as living expenses and if the amount has any relation to the actual costs of living in Brussels or Strasbourg? Or what their MEPs do in return for the money they receive? British media have been exploiting such issues for decades, instead of printing links to UK MEPs’ webpages where account statements can be found.

The EU should have started a PR-offensive decades ago. It should have taken its citizens’ complaints and unhappiness with decision-making, expenses, and other issues seriously – ages ago. By now, the relationship between EU and many of its citizens has soured so much, it threatens the EU’s existence and future.

Will recent events in the UK and other member-states finally urge the EU into taking positive action? Point out and explain the many benefits it brings; decide upon total accountability and transparency; check if MEPs still clock in late, leave early, or not even bother to show up at all; do something about its negative image?

If the UK Referendum results in a Brexit, the EU and its remaining citizens will have other and greater headaches to face first. If the results is a Bremain, the attitude of EU leaders,  MEPs, PR officials over the past years makes one doubt they will suddenly galvanize into action, or even care about the dismally bad opinion many EU citizens have of the EU.


About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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