Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Euroscepticism and the Future of European Integration

Lecture by Catherine de Vries

The European Union (EU) is facing one of the rockiest periods in its existence. No time in its history has it looked so economically fragile, so unsecure about how to protect its borders, so divided over how to tackle the crisis of legitimacy facing its institutions, and so under assault of Eurosceptic parties. The unprecedented levels of integration in recent decades has led to increased public contestation, yet at the same the EU is more reliant on public support for its continued legitimacy than ever before. Catherine E. De Vries in this book examines the role of public opinion in the European integration process. She develops a novel theory and typology of public opinion that stresses the deep interconnectedness between people’s views about European and national politics. This book suggests that public opinion cannot be characterized as either Eurosceptic or not, but rather consists of different types. Euroscepticism is such a diverse phenomenon because the Eurozone crisis has exacerbated the structural imbalances within the EU. As the economic and political fates of member states diverged, people’s experiences with the EU also grew further apart. The distinction between different types of Euroscepticism is important because this book demonstrates that certain types may threaten the EU’s existence because of their close links to preferences for secession and support for hard Eurosceptic parties, and that the heterogeneity in preferences among these types makes a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing Euroscepticism likely to be unsuccessful. The way forward for the EU, this book suggests, is to fully embrace the diversity within its borders and develop a more flexible approach to integration.

Catherine de Vries is a Professor of Political Behaviour in Europe in the department of Political Science and Public Administration at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The event is part of the Democracy Research Lecture Series”.