Dispelling a Myth? The Fathers of Europe and the Construction of a Euro-Identity
There is a broad agreement on the fact that today there is a wide gap between the European Union (EU) and the citizens of the Member States. According to a common belief, this gap is the result of a deliberate decision made by the founding fathers and subsequent European officials to keep the integration dynamic distant from the people. Yet, if we look closely at their writings and actions that were initiated by the European Commission at an early stage in the integration process, we can only conclude that there is little evidence to support this common belief. On the contrary, it appears that the founding fathers were eager to inform the public on issues related to the communities and that they did not hesitate to support measures aimed at enhancing knowledge about Europe, its policies, and its institutions. It is essential to question these beliefs in order to improve our understanding of the democratic deficit in the EU and especially of the solutions proposed for remedying it. If we admit that the founding fathers never had the intention of keeping the people in ignorance and that some actions were rapidly taken to bring the EU closer to them then it becomes difficult to claim that a reduction of the democratic deficit will follow when decision-makers simply imagine and adopt programmes aimed at bridging the gap. The question then becomes why have this socialisation and this ‘rapprochement’ not occurred.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Institute for European Studies, Université de Montréal-McGill University
Publication date: 2006-09-01