Fighting against populism is everybody's business

Economic progress and social stability are two key elements in the fight against Euroscepticism, but they alone are not enough: civil society needs to get involved!

At the presentation of the study Societies outside Metropolises: the role of civil society organisations in confronting populism, held on 20 February 2019 in Brussels, the EESC's Diversity Europe Group reviewed the rise of populism in the EU, analysing how and why it had emerged, and highlighting the key role that civil society can play in countering it.

While economic progress and social stability have an essential part to play in addressing the concerns that give rise to Euroscepticism, these factors alone are not enough. Civil society organisations have to take action to communicate a positive message about the value and importance of Europe and to bring Europe closer to its citizens. "The preservation of liberal democracy is everyone's business," said the President of the EESC Diversity Europe Group, Arno Metzler. "I believe that the only way to counter populism is through our democratic system, the very system that populists are trying to undermine: the EU must not only speak to people, but must actively listen and engage in dialogue. European civil society should help the Union to reach out to citizens, thus preventing and limiting the appeal of populist parties," he continued.

Research shows that economic decline, social instability and limited levels of education are some of the most significant factors behind increased support for populists throughout the EU. However, other more complex and interdependent issues also need to be considered, such as the desire to preserve the status quo and the need to protect traditional values, monocultures or particular identities. (mp)