DEN HAAG (PDC) - 'Many Europeans feel utterly powerless, as the globalized economy has been separated from national politics. What is left for our mismatched national democratic political systems is a debate on soft issues. Polarising issues such as the burqa, euthanasia, and integration.' This was the central message Caroline de Gruyter presented her audience with at the Montesquieu-Prinsjeslezing 2017 in The Hague.
The event, organised by the Montesquieu Institute in cooperation with the Europe Lecture Foundation and the Prinsjesfestival.
Paul Scheffer, professor European Studies at the University of Tilburg, said that the EU cannot become a community of values as it lacks a common approach to security. Populist parties address a legitimate fear; the EU has a common border, but member states are each individually responsible for guarding that border. Paul Scheffer warned that 'if liberal-minded parties do not present a solution to the problems that globalisation brings, more authoritarian approaches as advocated by illiberal parties will become much more prominent.'
De Gruyter and Scheffer concluded with the notion that although the European project aims to bring its constituent member states and above all, its citizens together, this has had contrary effects. 'Polarisation and pacification often go together'.
An extensive report (including photos and video) is available on this page.