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51 J. Common Mkt. Stud. 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/jcmks51 and id is 1 raw text is: 

JCMS 2013 Volume 51. Number 1. pp. 1-16

Euroscepticism as a Persistent Phenomenon*

1 University of Surrey. 2 University of the West of England

In the two decades since the emergence  of the European Union  at Maastricht there has been a
concerted attempt to build a European political space, typified by the debates on constitutionaliza-
tion and democratization. Much less noticed, but no less important, has been the mobilization of
publics, interest groups and political parties against the integration process. In the light of the failure
to realize the Laeken objectives, the stabilization of an anti-integration bloc in the European
Parliament, recurrent 'no' votes in national referendums and the emergence of an increasingly
co-ordinated movement  of critical interest groups, it is argued in this article that this opposition has
become  embedded  and persistent, at both European and national levels. This will have considerable
consequences for the Union itself and the way it has chosen to largely ignore sceptical voices to date.


Over  the last two decades  the EU   has attempted  to build a European   political space as
exemplified  by the debates on constitutionalization and democratization.  In recent years -
in particular since the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty - the European integration process
has been  increasingly beset by  obstacles, partly as the Union has  been forced to face up
to significant opposition to closer integration: the recent, piecemeal approach to reforming
economic   governance   with the European   Stability Mechanism and the Fiscal Compact
typify the overall  lack of strategic vision. This opposition  -  most  commonly labelled
'Euroscepticism'  - has been  exemplified  by the EU's  failure to realize the Laeken objec-
tives of bringing the Union closer to the people and of definitively allocating competences
between  European   and national  levels, the stabilization of an anti-integration bloc in the
European   Parliament  (EP), recurrent  'no' votes in national referendums   and  the emer-
gence  of an increasingly co-ordinated movement of critical  interest groups. Opposition  to
the EU   has become   increasingly  embedded   both  at European   and national  levels, and
highlights the urgent need for the EU  to engage  constructively with dissenting voices and
to consider  alternative views  about  paths  towards  further European   integration. This
situation has become   more  critical as a result of the global economic and financial crisis
and  the continuing  eurozone   crisis, as well as  prospective  enlargements  towards   the
Western   Balkans,  Iceland and  potentially Turkey.  These   developments   have  not only
helped  to further undermine  citizen support  for the EU, but  have also led to significant
policy implications  for both the EU and  its Member  States. Challenges  to free movement

* Earlier versions of this article were presented at the First Workshop of the University Association for Contemporary
European Studies Collaboration Research Network on Euroscepticism, University of Surrey, July 2011, and at the Univer-
sity Association of Contemporary European Studies 41st Annual Conference, Cambridge, September 2011. Many thanks
are due to all those involved in the discussions and refereeing that made this article and special issue possible, notably Oliver
Daddow and Michael Holmes for their work at a JCMS workshop in February 2012.

© 2012 The Author(s) JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies ©  2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main
Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA

DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5965.2012.02297.x

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