Update

Tour gathering ‘visions for Europe’ comes to Denmark

Summary What do the people of Europe really think about the developments in the EU and what are their ideas on fostering future cooperation? The New Pact for Europe conference promised the answers to these questions.

Nationalists and EU sceptics were on the march in opinion polls conducted before the European Parliamentary elections in May. But what do Europeans really think about developments in the EU and what are their ideas on fostering future cooperation? There are few who are better equipped to answer these questions than Janis A. Emmanouilidis, who is the research director of the think tank European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels. In recent months he has gauged European attitudes towards the EU, which has taken him on a tour of over 50 debating events in the EU member states.

The tour came to Denmark earlier this year, as Think Tank EUROPA invited the public to debate a “New Pact for Europe” in the Danish Parliament at Christiansborg.
 
Director of Studies and Head of Programme at the European Policy Centre Janis Emmanouilidis joined current and former Danish Foreign Ministers Martin Lidegaard and Uffe Ellemann-Jensen to kick off the debate. During the debate the guests were involved in the discussion and were asked to propose suggestions for solutions that would be compiled as part of a report presented by a number of European think tanks to the new European Commission this autumn.

A Megafon opinion poll conducted for Think Tank EUROPA shows that 57 percent of Danes want to contribute to strengthening the EU. However, 52 and 54 percent still say they would vote against abolishing the Danish opt-out of the EU areas of Defence and Justice and Home Affairs respectively if there was a vote today, and 66 percent would vote against adopting the Euro.

According to Catharina Sørensen, who is Think Tank EUROPA’s Research Director and has written a Ph.D. on Danish attitudes towards the EU, this “tour” presented a new and broader perspective on Europeans’ perceptions of the EU.

“This is a chance to – across many EU member states – start an important debate on what we really want the EU to be and how Europe should evolve. When you systematically trigger discussions and gather opinions, ideas and vision from 50 events across Europe, it gives you a good basis for evaluating how Europeans perceive the EU,” said Sørensen, who gave a presentation on EU scepticism in Denmark during the conference.

The conference in Copenhagen was part of the New Pact for Europe initiative, which, in the wake of a turbulent crisis within the EU, will build new foundations for the debate on Europe.