Europe a la Carte

The Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Europe a la Carte


"Europe Divided? Elites vs. Public Opinion on European Integration" by Liesbet Hooghe, in European Union Politics (Sept. 2003), Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Rd., Thousand Oaks, Calif. 91320.

When it comes to an integrated Europe, leaders and led appear far apart, with the former enthusiastic and the latter not very. But that common perception is something of an illusion, contends Hooghe, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina. In reality, the elites and the citizenry are looking to the European Union for different things.

"Elites," she says, "desire a European Union capable of governing a large, competitive market and projecting political muscle; citizens are more in favor of a caring European Union, which protects them from the vagaries of capitalist markets."

Recent surveys seem at first to confirm the oft-sighted huge gap between national leaders, 93 percent of whom regard EU membership as, on balance, a good thing, and the public, of whom only 53 percent agree. But when the questioning gets to specific policy areas, the gap narrows or disappears. …

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