The most important vote in the history of the European Union will take place tomorrow. No Member State has ever put to vote its permanence in the EU. Britain is at a crossroads. Beyond the outcome, the promoters of the referendum have already obtained a result: one can decide to leave the Union; an option that will be available also to other countries, it is a Europe in search of an identity and with strong populist and anti-European movements.
Why have we reached this point, that is, Brexit? Why do large segments of the European population have such a negative or distorted idea of Europe? It is not enough to simply say no to Brexit. We must get to the heart of the reasons that can lead to a strong disintegration of the whole of Europe. For this reason, it is not enough to strengthen the institutions and political arrangements. The EU, on the contrary, needs to recover the approval of public opinion, since a large portion of it considers that its life would be better without Europe, that it is easier to govern alone processes such as globalization, which scare everyone, large peripheries and little communities.
We need to entirely rethink the European governance. As we have experienced in recent years, if the construction of the Union is entrusted to treaties and intergovernmental logic alone, the results are Brexit, walls, fear, and a general strengthening of the anti-European sentiment. You do not build Europe only with the elites, but with the consent of public opinion, that is, with a European political system where parties have a central role.
We cannot keep following a logic of secret negotiations that take place at a table, without real transparency. We cannot continue to face difficulties involving only “managers”, who act without discussing. Repeating these schemes, as it happened with Great Britain is very dangerous and can even lead to the failure of the European Union.
In the face of global challenges, we cannot provide individual answers and lack of unity is not the proper solution. We must ensure that Europe is potentiated in order to face the challenges of our times in a planned and cohesive way. In this context, the press and the media should help communicate the benefits Europe offers to its citizens and not to follow the trend of slogans that lack vision, often giving a rather distorted and false vision of things to the public opinion. If Britain opts out of Europe, we will enter a gray area of EU’s history, where everything will be possible and the lives of our countries will prove to be more fragile.