“The EU must sell itself, or it will die.” That’s according to Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU Affairs, Neale Richmond, who was engaging with the European Commission at a meeting of the Oireachtas EU Affairs Committee, focusing on the future of the EU white paper.
“Whenever things get difficult, politicians across Europe are often quick to shift blame to the EU, to Brussels, to faceless bureaucrats.
“Many politicians and movements have created their entire raison d’ être opposing everything the EU does and often misrepresenting the work of the EU in the process.
“In recent years we have begun to feel the consequences of this with Brexit and the rise of populist movements on both the left and the right in Greece, France, Germany, Spain and indeed here in Ireland too.
“Throughout the white paper on the future of Europe, much attention is given to worthy ambitions and technical efforts at reform.
“One thing lacking however is a robust and proactive strategy to continually promote the European dream.
“The European Commission tries so very hard to educate, engage and quantify but it doesn’t do enough to simply sell itself. If the EU isn’t selling the European dream, who will? If the EU doesn’t sell itself, the European dream will die.
“Europe is worth fighting for but relying on domestic governments and a sprinkling of interested bodies isn’t enough. Far too many EU citizens take the benefits of the EU for granted, and far too many are exposed to relentless and simplistic eurosceptic propaganda.
“The EU needs to put far more energy into combatting this by selling itself continuously. It cannot just be at referendum time or when an existential crisis occurs.
“Brexit arose because of complacency and a level of modesty that would embarrass a monk. Europe needs to start selling itself.”