The EU is increasingly under scrutiny, as demonstrated by the Brexit referendum, the 2014 European Parliament elections, populist Euroscepticism, widespread anger at austerity and the Eurozone and migration crises.
Dr. Russell Foster from the Department of European and International Studies at King’s College London argues that the EU’s future cannot be restricted to decisions taken by a policymaking elite. If the EU is to survive, it must have a stronger legitimacy and he sees symbols of the community as crucial to this. Currency is the main vehicle for symbols and itself is a symbol, acting as the main link between citizens and the EU. Indeed the euro was conceived not only to facilitate commerce, but as a symbolic link which would bind people together on an everyday level and encourage a collective “European” identity over national identities. What it means to be “European” must be sought among national citizens but current crises are causing Europeans to questioning the EU and whether it is worth staying in. Russel Foster states that the EU’s current symbolism is incapable of expressing an identity, but through symbolic reform citizens’ emotional identification with the EU can be strengthened. This alone will not save the EU, but it could be a companion to policymaking, according to him.
– Wolfgang Petzold, Deputy Director, Directorate for Communication, Committee of the Regions
– Russell Foster, Department of European and International Studies, King’s College London