For something that is often described as a faceless Brussels bureaucracy, the European Union (EU) surprises in its ability to provoke contradictory public emotions, ranging from euphoria and hubris to disappointment and revulsion. In Bournemouth in 1988, French élite civil servant and Commission President Jacques Delors (1988) earned an unlikely standing ovation from rank and file representatives of British workers by calling for a European ‘social dimension’. The speech provoked immediate and equally emblematic rebukes from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1988) and, more prosaically, the British tabloid The Sun (‘Up Yours, Delors’). This pithy formulation captured a sentiment that subsequently grew in strength, and ultimately, with the ‘Brexit’ referendum of 23 June 2016, the British electorate voted to leave the EU. The intensity and frequency of such emblematic instances have not waned in recent times. Quite the contrary. In Ukraine on 25 May 2014, the ‘Euromaidan’ uprising – the first time blood was spilt in the EU’s name – culminated in Petro Poroshenko’s presidential election victory. Intending to ‘return Ukraine to its natural European state’, Poroshenko then signed the Association Agreement previously rejected by the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich. Meanwhile, farther west on the same day, an entirely different verdict was rendered in the European parliamentary (EP) elections.
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