Analyzing The Role Of Euroskepticism In The European Union

2723 words - 11 pages

Political integration was never supposed to be easy for Europe. As a people who have endured a history of political and social change, Europeans take pride in their respective nationalities in addition to the various ethnicities, religions, and cultures which comprise their identity. Thus, Europeans view national sovereignty as integral to the nation-state, an entity which represents the collective interests of its citizens. Naturally, European states clung to their sovereignty following the Second World War, but began moving in the direction of integration after realizing that mutual cooperation within Europe suited their best interests. In hindsight, integration within Europe has far ...view middle of the document...

With that said, euroskepticism varies based on each state’s political landscape and cultural values. For example, euroskepticism in the U.K. is rooted in its practice of exceptionalism whereas in Greece it functions as a symbol of disagreement with the EU’s economic policies of austerity. Additionally, euroskepticism has generally been observed among scholars as a symptom or issue arising from discontent but can also be viewed as an effective strategy for peripheral “fringe” parties such as protest parties to take votes away from mainstream pro-EU parties.
Despite its multidimensionality, euroskepticism is consistent in its approach toward a few major issues within the EU. At the heart of its philosophy lies an unyielding distrust in the transfer of sovereignty from the state level to the supranational body of the EU. The pooling national sovereignty into a governing system representative of all states’ interests may seem like a good idea but not to euroskeptics critical of the EU’s bureaucratic tendencies and lack of transparency, which they argue has led to a democratic deficit within the EU and an alienated public. As a result of its uncertainty, the public treats the EU with suspicion and perceives it as virtually foreign, instead placing its faith in the decision-making of national government in exchange for cultural security and economic well-being. When national government fails, as in the instance of Greece, public blame is placed on the EU for generalizing the conditions of all member states and failing to acknowledge the characteristics of individual states. Hence, euroskeptics would prefer either an intergovernmental EU comprised of a confederation of states or a total dissolution of the EU and the return of national sovereignty.
As euroskeptics value the preservation rather than the relinquishing of sovereignty, they realize that the latter poses a threat to the national and cultural identity which define Europeans. Although contemporary European society has progressed far beyond the shadow of its chauvinistic and nationalistic past, Europeans still fiercely cling to their identity, with many regarding the nation-state as serving the purpose of protecting and reinforcing national values. In many member states, especially those with prominent minority populations, “political preferences often derive from deep historical or cultural identities such as nationality”. Recently this phenomenon has been witnessed in the rise of euroskeptic ‘protest parties’ with exclusively nationalist, anti-immigration, and even fascist agenda, from Britain’s UKIP to Greece’s Golden Dawn. Many euroskeptics feel that the changing nature of the nation-state will lead to a degradation of national values, as they interpret the EU’s cosmopolitan efforts of “widening and deepening” integration as attempts to homogenize Europe. Similarly, it does not appear that euroskeptics approve of the “widening” of...

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