A man who was once a key player in European Union (EU) integration has called for a “pause” in the European project, admitting that people do not want ever closer union.
Hubert Védrine, who served as French Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2002, was a big player in the creation of the Schengen open border agreement and the European monetary union. However, he is now calling for the EU to slow down its rate of integration as the European public become resentful of its influence.
Speaking to Politico.eu, Mr Védrine said: “In most countries today you have 15 to 20 percent of voters who reject Europe altogether, and another 15 to 20 percent that remain die-hard Europhiles. That leaves at least 60 percent in the middle who are what I’d call euro-allergic.
“Yet you see governments and parties all over jumping up and down asking for ‘more Europe, more Europe!’”
“If you want people to massively reject Europe, just keep on,” he said.
He also said that those who criticise governments for putting their own national interests first fail to understand the basic rules of diplomacy.
He said their approach “means that you try to shame governments by always complaining about their ‘national selfishness’ etc. But these are legitimate national interests we are talking about.”
He therefore calls for a “pause” in European integration to stop the growing resentment among the electorate.
In February, Hungary announced plans to hold a referendum on accepting compulsory migration quotas, provoking the wrath of the European Commission.
The quota system, which seeks to redistribute migrants from heavily affected countries such as Greece and Italy to less affected countries, is proving extremely unpopular in Eastern Europe and fuelling the popularity of anti-mass immigration governments.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended the referendum, saying: “We cannot make decisions over people’s heads that will significantly change their lives and those of future generations.
“The quota would change the profile of Hungary and Europe: ethnically, culturally, and religiously. My decision is not directed against Europe. It is a decision to protect European democracy.”