In the “New Opportunity” for “Reaching out to EU Citizens” which is all about “Winning hearts and minds to create a federal EU” you can read that the general public’s trust in the European Union, as in other political institutions, has steadily eroded over the past decades, with a significant drop since the start of the financial and economic crisis in 2008. Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, acknowledged this worrying trend in his inaugural speech at the European Parliament in November 2014, when he set the tone for his ‘last-chance Commission’. ‘Either we succeed in bringing the European citizens closer to Europe — or we will fail’. Now, more than ever, the Union must confront the cynics, the sceptics and the critics, and show that it is delivering.
“The EU needs to urgently establish a continuous debate between the citizens and the Union’s institutions, ‘a disempowered dialogue of emancipated people’, to quote the philosopher Jürgen Habermas and this need received new impetus in 2016, with the referendum in the United Kingdom on Brexit”.
Perhaps that is why today, asked if the [UK] deal meant that the default position is remaining in the single market, Barnier said “No. You haven’t understood that well…beyond its decision to leave the EU…the British government has confirmed that it wishes also to leave the single market and the customs union which is not obligatory. There are countries who are not EU members, who are part because that is their wish, whilst respecting of the rules of the single market. But that’s not the choice taken by the UK. So you have not understood that well”. But now they will!