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Why Europeans don't give a damn about Brussels’ politics

EU politics seem boring - only few are interested in it. Alexandre Météreau proposes an unusual approach to tackle this problem.


Guest Article by Alexandre Météreau

 

Charles Michel (President of the European Council) and Robert Abela (Prime Minister of Malta) arrive at the MED9 Summit in Valletta

Do you know these politicians? Many do not.

From left to right: Charles MICHEL (President of the European Council) and Robert ABELA (Prime Minister, Malta).


'Med9' Summit 29.09.2023 (Copyright: European Union)

 

As the European elections will be held in less than a year and with the campaign just starting, we must reflect on why European citizens have little love for EU politics.


Why don’t European citizens give a damn about Brussels’ politics?

This question gives headaches (and nightmares?) to everyone in the EU bubble: we Euro-nerds are so fond of it.


So why don’t our families back home care more (but also don’t seem to want to care) about what is decided for them in Brussels or Strasbourg?


Well - stop scratching your head. I found the definitive answer to this question. I even have a solution that we can use today.


So read this piece and take the opportunity of the holiday season to spread the word: Everyone can develop a passion for EU politics. Even your gran’.



 

Alexandre Météreau

is the founder and editor of the newsletter The Beubble. He deciphers the ins and outs of European politics, clarifies EU policy development and deepens knowledge of EU lawmaking.


Alexandre's next project 400 Million Votes will cover the most important facts of the 2024 European elections.



 


It's not (only) about the EU


We must admit it: EU policymaking is boring.


Sure, we all know a weirdo who likes to read 200-page Parliamentary reports and amendments, who frames the Commission’s infographics to her office walls.


Still - reading ill-named documentation and legal text is boring as hell for most people. And if most of us do it, it’s only because our work depends on it.


Now, I want to ask you a simple question...




What can possibly be as dull as the EU legislative procedure?


That’s right: any other legislative procedure.


Does anyone enjoy regulatory procedures in other countries?


We should not ask our friends and families at home to find a passion for ETS, CBAM, and other New European Bauhaus (whatever that’s for) policies - for the same reason that no one cares about Germany’s military programming law, or France’s fiscal rules revamps.


A man and a woman act on a stage

The ancient art of dramaturgy cares for the lives of heroes.

Modern political drama cares for an other kind of protagonist.


(Photo by Eduardo Pastor on Unsplash)

 

Drama is the spark that provokes interest


The reason why so many people are passionate about home politics is because of the drama.


Electors love the not-so-secret battles between leaders of the same party. They want to hear about the dirty tricks that one party played against the other. They crave fierce debates and clashes on TV and Twitter.


That’s the hard truth: no one cares about the policies that politicians vote on (or at least some specialists or a handful of educated citizens). Voters want to see (figurative) blood and (not-so-figurative) tears spilt by politicians in newspapers, on TV studios, and on social media.


Let’s get back to Brussels. Where’s the drama? Where are the tears? the verbal assaults? the shameful, yet so delectable, behaviours?


Let’s put drama back to European politics - people will start caring about it just like any wasp is attracted to summer fruits.



Editor's note: What I did not foresee in August 2022, when this post was originaly published, is the major Qatargate scandal. That was a moment for drama! Everyone was talking about it! And although I would prefer to do without corruption, we must admit that it is what makes people talk.



We don’t need more drama - we need another narrative


Let me state it clearly: I’m not advocating for more drama in EU politics.

We don’t even need more: it’s there. In the Parliament’s labyrinthine corridors, Shakespearean plays are already unfolding (Uber files, Commission-Hungary clash over recovery funds, Qatargate, etc.).


What we need is not better stories, it’s a better way to tell them. European-centric newspapers are as boring as the reports they write on. They need to talk about backroom deals, the clashes, the egos, the plots, etc. In my opinion, only POLITICO does it well. That’s not enough.


That’s not enough because they write in English (no EU state has English as its official language anymore), and for a Brussels-based audience, already in the know.


What we need is a new generation of journalists - and passionate bloggers - who are ready and willing to put European political drama into the local press.




What can you do?


You can be part of this “repolitisation” of European politics.


With the European elections coming up, talk to your friends and family at home. Hint at the drama you learned about recently. See how they react. Link their reactions to local politics to the grand scheme of things at the European Parliament’s level.


I’m sure that with these few tricks only, people will want to pay more attention to European politics. Repeat as soon as you visit them. Become their source of EU news if you must. Over time, they will grow fond of Brussels’ intrigues.


That being said, I hope you will use The Beubble as an information source when talking about EU drama to your friends. So do subscribe to the newsletter and share it with a friend.




Pictures


Title picture: https://newsroom.consilium.europa.eu/permalink/p171341 (Copyright: European Union)

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