Euroscepticism: New Factor of European Politics

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-8-40-48

G. Vainshtein, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The phenomenon of Euroscepticism, not long ago a marginal part of the European political landscape, increasingly moves forward to the political foreground. This article explores the meaning of the notion of Euroscepticism, analyzes current peculiarities of this phenomenon, its scale and main sources, as well as differentiation of anti-integrationist political actors. While the very phenomenon existed in European politics throughout the implementation of the European project, a new characteristic of the socio-political situation in the EU is the ongoing broadening of this phenomenon's scale, the growth of its electoral support and the radicalization of its articulation forms. The strengthening of critical public attitudes towards realities of the European integration which is a feature of the contemporary socio-political climate in Europe not only has weakened the traditional pro-integrationist consensus of the political establishment, but has also led to a substantial reinforcement of more or less radical opponents of the European project within the European party-political space. This development seems to be an indicator of the European political mainstream “qualitative renewal”. Though the current growth of electoral support for Eurosceptic parties is to a great extent induced by the global financial and economic crisis, economic factor is not the main driving force of the Euroscepticism. At present, a wide range of diverse political and cultural factors increasingly determine commitment of European citizens to the EU. In some cases, these factors are crucial to the development of Euroscepticism. This fact is of significant importance, with regard to assessing the prospects for the given phenomenon, since political and socio-cultural motives of public Euroscepticism build much more sustainable basis for the Eurosceptical trend than economic ones. Issues relating to the prospects of Euroscepticism are of particular relevance, in connection with high performance of Eurosceptic politicians at the 2014 European Parliament elections. The elections result is not only strengthening of the "soft Eurosceptics'" positions, but also a sensational electoral “breakthrough” of “hard Eurosceptics” (Europhobes). While ability of Eurosceptics' direct influence on the decision-making process in the EP seems insignificant, much more important is their capacity to influence the agenda of the mainstream pro-European parties both in Europe and at home. Ultimately, the rise of the Euroscepticism makes the future of the European project more uncertain. Today (and probably, in the foreseeable future), the real purpose of European political elites may only be countering the trends of national sovereignty restoration, and maintenance of an integration process at its current level rather than its extension.

Keywords: Euroscepticism, European Union, Eurointegration, European project, European political mainstream, Alternative for Germany, SYRIZA, National Front (France), United Kingdom Independence Party, Podemos

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For citation:
Vainshtein G. Euroscepticism: New Factor of European Politics. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, no. 8, pp. 40-48.

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