Europe has problems – weakened economy and huge unemployment, which became factors for increased euroscepticism in member states. People believe that the EU has failed, surveys show. However, according to EU officials, euroscepticism is an expected occurrence at the moment and the EU will grow stronger.
Taking in consideration the surge of euroscepticism and nationalism should we talk more about Europe or just wait for Europe to go back to growth? Do we have more Europe now? This were the questions I asked Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response in Brussels.
There is more Europe today, is the opinion of Georgieva. She believes the crisis has forced us to significantly deepen economic integration. „We now have economic governance in Europe that was unthinkable before the crisis with countries bringing their budget proposes before they are adopted“, emphasized Georgieva, part of the EU Commission.
„We have more Europe also in a sheer quantitative term because now we have a new member state – Croatia. And we are continuing to discuss enlargement of Europe despite the fact that it has been a very difficult time and indeed many people in Europe are anxious for their future and less committed or expressing commitment for Europe“, said commissioner Georgieva.
We are coming out of this crisis stronger, believes Georgieva. In her opinion Europe exits the crisis with a more competitive economy.
The latest data of Eurostat show that in August 2013 industrial production grew by 1% in the euro area and by 0,5% in the EU. The volume of retail trade increased by 0,7% in the monetary union and by 0,4% in the EU. Furthermore, in the second quarter of this year the euro zone returned back to growth.
„Services of public opinion in countries tell us that people are more confident in the future of Europe“, said also Kristalina Georgieva.
In the past years unemployment has become a huge problem in a lot of European countries. The number of employed decreased in the euro area in the first quarter of 2013, official statistic shows. In August 2013, the euro zone (EA17) unemployment rate was 12%, stable compared to July. At the same time the EU28 unemployment rate stood at 10.9%, also stable compared to the previous month. However, in the euro zone and in the EU as a whole, unemployment rates have risen on a year-over-year basis, 11.5% and 10.6% respectively, according to figures by Eurostat.
„But is has been a long crisis and it has affected disproportionally countries and social groups within countries“, agreed Kristalina Georgieva. „We have seen tremendous surge of unemployment, unemployed youth and also structural unemployment. We have seen in Europe a very sad increase of poverty during the years of crisis“, she said.
Ivailo Kalfin, member of the European Parliament from the Group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), expressed the opinion that euroscepticism is common not only in the rich European countries but also in those with less competitive economies including Bulgaria. In an interview in Brussels he said that maybe after the elections for European Parliament in May 2014 we will see more eurosceptic parties in the Parliament but there won’t be a huge difference in comparison with before.
„I don’t think that the eurosceptics will overtake the Parliament“, said Kalfin. In his opinion euroscepticism among political parties is a short-term policy that lacks argumentation and basically relies on emotions.
Source: Storify.com/Barzilska. First published on 17th of October 2013 in Storify.com, produced when taking part in a Youth Media Days workshop.