The EU needs to rebuild trust with citizens and try to implement what they want instead of telling them what they will get. There is a growing 'revolt against Brussels'. People want to reclaim some control and ownership that now reside in the EU. Populist advances should be taken seriously because they are shaping the political debate. In the absence of real alternatives to the policies in practice, the impression that left and right are alike, makes it easy for demagogues to feed the far right populism.

Many of these parties see the EU as an ideal 'scapegoat' simply because of its transnational nature, of its supposed inability to provide effective protection against the consequences of globalization, accentuating the loss of national references deemed as being the only strong links in citizenship and identity, and last but not least the view that the EU is not considered as a "legitimate" political power with an anchor amongst the "people".

The only effective solution to combat populist slogans is to take on board the issues that feed surges in national populism and to draw up firm, serious answers and avoid any xenophobic deviation. There must be a real turn about in terms of political imagination. Answers must be provided by a discourse that is just as sound with regard to the advantages provided by an open society from an economic,social and political point of view. The discourse on these issues cannot just go with the flow nor can it be defensive.

Rebuilding trust with EU citizens is critical. The European Union plans to designate 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. One important objective would be to promote a better understanding of the value of European intergration and demonstrating the concrete impact of Union policies in citizens' lives. It would highlight the importance of citizens' in the European project as well as strengthen tolerance, mutual understanding, social and societal cohesion, and thus promote European democracy. This is a good initiative but in terms of calendar why wait until 2013? The European Year of Citizens should be 2012 not 15 months from now! EU citizens are calling for answers right now!  

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