OPINION

Euro indifference

Greek voters are often criticized for being indifferent to European affairs and for voting in European elections in line with their national priorities. The historical weight of the European integration experiment and the European Union’s fundamental role in shaping the continent’s economic environment are unquestionable. The Union’s influence, however, has failed to translate into better living standards for the average European citizen or into a higher growth rate, like those achieved by the individual nation states decades ago. The current economic stagnation could be dealt with as a serious but passing malady if the European Union was based on strong and recognizable political and ideological foundations, and not just on a single currency. Such strong foundations would inspire respect among citizens in the bloc and beyond. The idea of a united Europe has fallen short of giving birth to a shared cultural product. This was to be expected as a technocratic, managerial body could not substitute for the vitality of individuals and nations. Europe’s greatest assets are diversity and pluralism (needless to say, the mostly Anglophone Eurovision song contest could hardly be regarded as a sample of the various ethnic cultures). The existence of a common European heritage is a given. It can be found in the ancient classical Greek civilization, the tradition of the Roman Empire and in Christianity (whose fundamental role in shaping European civilization is not mentioned in Europe’s nascent constitution). But the most interesting aspect is the national manifestations of these basic ideological and cultural traits. Aside from its economic dimension, the European Union is the only vehicle which could preserve and develop the ethnic particularities of its constituent parts. Few voters go to the polls with these issues in mind. However, the absence of such issues from the agenda underscores the EU’s ideological, cultural and political deficit, effectively reducing it to a mercantile operation for the promotion of tea and coffee. The question is not why European citizens – including Greeks – are not interested in European issues but why the EU is not making an effort to overcome its managerial essence. Management does not inspire creativity among people regardless of their ethnic origin.