Today, I’ve been in Brussels, presenting a seminar on “The New Euroscepticism” as part of the UACES Arena series. The idea behind the seminars is to bring together academics and practitioners, so that both can gain something from the interaction: a hope that was more than borne out on this occasion.
I had been somewhat concerned beforehand that EU officials attending the event might not take too kindly to my critique of their assorted information strategies and public discourses: indeed, that had been a central part of what I was discussing. And yet I came out of the session feeling that I was not being particularly negative, nor that my challenge to the EU was unmerited. The atmosphere in Brussels is not upbeat these days, in part because the past couple of years have shown that the Union hasn’t been the dominant arena for resolving matters, much in contrast to sceptic discourses about ‘Brussels ruling our lives.’
The whole event really demonstrating the value of exchanging views with people with whom one doesn’t normally speak. And that’s true whether you’re a federalist or a sceptic, an academic or a fonctionnaire.