Shared prospects

It’s only an opinion poll but still, it is quite revealing about public trends in EU member states. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 79 percent of EU citizens are in favor of a European Constitution while 15 percent are against. Even in Britain, traditionally a Euroskeptic country, the figures are 51 and 34 percent respectively. At first sight, this result appears to be contradicted by the low turnout at the recent European polls. In fact, while people are in favor of an ever-closer union, they show little enthusiasm for the bloc’s political structure and end-product. In that respect, the unification process is still an elite affair. To some extent, that is unavoidable. Political leaders are trapped in shortsighted patriotism and deep hesitation when it comes to Europe’s political emanticipation. Europe still has a long way to go before it can play a global role that befits its size. The integration process has been a succession of conflicts and syntheses – a reality that was to be expected given the nature of the experiment. European integration can only proceed with a step-by-step approach. The Constitution – by no means an ideal document – serves the need of advancing the unification process. Despite their disagreements, EU states have hammered out a common identity and shared perspective which gives the venture a much-needed stability. People know that the EU’s future lies in ad hoc partnerships based on countries’ willingness and their fulfillment of specific standards. The last wave of enlargement was decided on the basis of multiple speeds. It is no coincidence that the membership negotiations for the 10 newcomers were completed in record time. But it’s time we clarified the limits of any future expansion. The answer will be given in December when the European Council will decide on whether it will give Ankara the green light for membership talks.