...The European project tends to run into problems whenever it’s put to a vote. A proposed EU constitution was scrapped in 2005 when it was rejected by French and Dutch voters. Its replacement, the slightly less ambitious Lisbon treaty, was put to a public vote in only one country, Ireland, which rejected it in 2008. (The Irish eventually voted yes to the treaty the following year after winning some concessions.) The only two countries that held a referendum on adopting the euro, Denmark and Sweden, both rejected it.
- That the EU is a powerful superstate encroaching on the power of nation-states to address core concerns of their citizens;
- That the EU is an arbitrary, runaway technocracy operated by officials subject to inadequate procedural controls;
- That EU decisions are made by unelected officials not subject to meaningful democratic accountability;
- That negative referendum results in places like France, the Netherlands, and Ireland expressed the fundamental dislike or mistrust of European citizens for the EU and its policies;
- That European institutions are disliked or mistrusted by publics because they do not encourage mass public participation;
- That voters fail to participate actively and intelligently in European politics because existing EU institutions disillusion or disempower them.
Keating's post propagates the fourth of these supposed myths. Moravcsik's counterargument to Keating's position (pp. 336-37) is that "there is almost no connection between voting behavior on referendums... and public attitudes on Europe." For example, he argues that "voters often use Euro-elections to cast protest votes on national issues: opinions about the ruling party, globalization or immigration involving non-EU countries, and other matters not involving the EU." In short, Moravcsik argues that the results of referenda, Euro-parliamentary elections, and national elections are "not driven by any informed antipathy toward Europe."
Finally, because I know Prof. Moravcsik would want us to step back and view the recent Grainwreck in historical context, I leave you with a remark he made during a 2012 panel discussion at the Italian Cultural Institute in Brussels:
[There is an argument that] either we move forward, or [we will face] the dissolution of the EU; this Wagnarian conclusion. I say no. I say Europe has a choice about monetary policy: take it, or leave it. But, either way, the rest of the European project remains and it’s the greatest single success in international cooperation in the history of the world. And its last 25 years are more successful than anything it’s ever done, whether or not the euro proceeds.