LUXEMBOURG (AP) — European Union President Donald Tusk said Monday that those who believe in "instant and total integration" of the EU have missed what many people really want and he raised the prospect of having a debate among member states on where the bloc should be heading.
Less than a month before a referendum on EU membership is held in Britain, where the EU is often depicted as a hulking super state, Tusk said in frank words that today's generation of EU politicians was responsible for creating "a utopia of Europe without nation states."
Tusk told a meeting of his EPP Christian Democrat group that "obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe do not share our Euro-enthusiasm."
Instead, movements and ideas turning against the ideals of a more united Europe are becoming ever more popular.
After years of waffling and increasing disenchantment with the EU headquarters in Brussels, Britain decided to have a June 23 referendum on membership which will decide its political future for years to come.
In France and the Netherlands, and even Germany, anti-EU parties and grass-roots movements are becoming ever bigger, as problems of unemployment and migration persist.
Tusk said perfect European unity and integration might not be the answer.
"The specter of a breakup is haunting Europe and a vision of a federation doesn't seem to me like the best answer to it," he said.
"Disillusioned with the great visions of the future, they demand that we cope with the present reality better than we have been doing until now. Today, Euroskepticism, or even Euro-pessimism have become an alternative to those illusions."
As European Council president, Tusk has major powers to drive the debate and he said that he now wants "an honest and open debate on the subject."
Since the EU will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding Treaty of Rome next year, he saw it as the ideal moment.