Citizens seem to fear the EU. So let's deal with it.
After the second rejection of the European Constitution within one week, the scale of the task facing the European Union to restore its reputation in the eyes of its citizens now has become perhaps the largest challenge it has ever had to face.
The Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) has been one of the few grass-roots organisations that has campaigned in favour of ratification, as the driving force behind the YES Campaign (www.yes-campaign.net).
"The rejection of the Constitution in Netherlands is another severe blow to the Constitution," stated Jon Worth, President of JEF-Europe. "There is a bitter feeling of complete distrust and misunderstanding."
"As we believe that the EU is a union of citizens and states, it is clear to us that ratification should proceed - all states should have the chance to express their opinions on this text."
"As long as there are referendums to win, JEF activists will continue campaigning!"
"However, what we have seen in the Netherlands, as in France, is a no vote which is a more an expression of insecurity and fear than it is a rejection of the actual text of the Constitution."
"The citizens have increasingly seen the European Union as part of the problems their countries are facing domestically. The reality is the EU has had no means to solve these problems and would only get them with this Constitution."
For JEF-Europe, the clear message from the disappointing results this week is that only renewed efforts to explain the European Union to its citizens can offer a way out of the current difficulties.
"The EU has made some efforts to improve its way of working by drafting this Constitution, but its efforts to explain these changes to the people have been almost non-existent," continued Jon Worth.
"A positive case for the EU needs to be made to all citizens from all backgrounds - starting now - or else the whole historic project of European integration could be in grave danger."