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Euroscepticism is been traditionally the adjective used to describe those who are sceptics or show opposition to further European integration, coupled sometimes with a desire to re­establish national sovereignty in the current process of European integration. Other descriptions defend that this denomination denotes a greater field of influence: Euroscepticism has become a general term for opposition to the process of European integration.

Margarita Gómez-Reino and Carolina Plaza wrote in an article that Euroscepticism emerged in political discourse in 1992 as a term to refer to skepticism about European integration. While its roots go back to the postwar period, since the Maastricht treaty it became an increasing widespread phenomenon in European politics. To them Euroscepticismexpresses the idea of contingent or qualified opposition, as well as incorporating outright and unqualified opposition to the process of European integration”.

Studies show the concentration of Euroscepticism in the extremes of party systems, being radical left and right the most Eurosceptic party families in Europe. The radical right party family, however, is the truly Eurosceptic vanguard of Europe. While Euroscepticism is concentrated on both radical party families, its relative importance for party ideological stands has changed over time. Euroscepticism, treated as a secondary feature of the party core ideologies, increasingly moved to the fore.

The concept of Euroscepticism has been widespread all over the continent, used by all sectors, social actors, political parties and countries in the Union, to describe any opposition to the integration process. Therefore, Euroscepticism ranges from those who oppose some EU institutions and policies and seek reform (soft Euroscepticism), to those who oppose EU membership outright and see the EU as unreformable (hard Euroscepticism). Euroscepticism should not be confused with anti-Europeanism, which is a dislike of European culture and European ethnic groups by non-Europeans.

The main sources of Euroscepticism have been beliefs that integration undermines national sovereignty and the nation state, that the EU is elitist and lacks democratic legitimacy and transparency, that it is too bureaucratic and wasteful, that it encourages high levels of migration, or perceptions that it is a neoliberal organization serving the business elite at the expense of the working class, responsible for austerity and driving privatization.

Euroscepticism is found in groups across the political spectrum, both left-wing and right-wing and is often found in populist parties. Although they criticize the EU for many of the same reasons, Eurosceptic left-wing populists focus more on economic issues (such as the European debt crisis), while Eurosceptic right-wing populists focus more on nationalism and immigration. The rise in radical right-wing parties since the 2000s is strongly linked to a rise in Euroscepticism.

According to many scholars, there is a conceptual challenge integrating populism with Euroscepticism. Both phenomena are widely analyzed in the literature yet often as empirically linked but analytically separate and distinctive issues. Even the empirical overlap between populist and Eurosceptic politics does not appear in many instances: not every Eurosceptic party is necessarily populist, and not every populist party is necessarily Eurosceptic. However, both populism and Euroscepticism are on the supply side of party politics.

According to an article by Matthijs Rooduijn and Stijn van Kessel, at the conceptual level, populism and Euroscepticism are both closely related and inherently distinct. Notably, populism is a general set of ideas about the functioning of democracy, while Euroscepticism concerns a position toward a more concrete political issue (European integration). When focusing on the political supply side (political parties) as well as the demand side (citizens), populism and Euroscepticism can often be observed in tandem. In practice, many populist parties are Eurosceptic, and many Eurosceptic parties are populist.

To Rooduijn and van Kessel, Euroscepticism and populism can typically be found at the ideological fringes of party systems, in particular among parties with radical left socioeconomic positions on the one hand and radical right sociocultural positions on the other. While little is known about the relationship between populist and Eurosceptic attitudes among citizens, it is clear that such attitudes contribute to support for populist and Eurosceptic parties. Moreover, preliminary analyses indicate that at the level of voters, populist and Eurosceptic attitudes often coincide.

Ideologically driven Eurosceptics are under the influence of Euroscepticism because it is implied in their original ideological positions. The values and normative political goals are came from the initial ideology. Thus a party, which opposes to the values, goals, or policies of the European integration, must choose and adopt a hard or soft Eurosceptic stance. On the other hand, strategically driven Eurosceptics use Euroscepticism as a pragmatic addition to their original program. Eurosceptic parties usually use it to attract new voters, extend their coverage of the electorate and increase their political influence.

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Taggart, Paul (2020) Failing the European Rorschach test? European integration and euroscepticisms. In: Gilbert, Mark and Pasquinucci, Daniele (eds.) Euroscepticisms: the historical roots of a political challenge. European Studies (36). Brill, Leiden, pp. 222-229. ISBN 9789004375345

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Pirro, Andrea, Taggart, Paul and van Kessel, Stijn (2018) The populist politics of Euroscepticism in times of crisis: comparative conclusions. Politics, 38 (3). pp. 978-390. ISSN 0263-3957

Taggart, Paul and Szczerbiak, Aleks (2004) Supporting the Union? Euroscepticism and domestic politics of European integration. In: Green Cowles, Maria and Dinan, Desmond (eds.) Developments in the European Union 2. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. ISBN 9780333961681

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van Elsas, E. J., Hakhverdian, A., & van der Brug, W. (2016). United against a common foe? The nature and origins of euroscepticism among left-wing and right-wing voters. West European Politics39(6), 1181-1204. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2016.1175244

van der Brug, W. (2016). European Elections, Euroscepticism, and Support for Anti-European Union Parties. In W. van der Brug, & C. H. de Vreese (Eds.), (Un)intended Consequences of European Parliamentary Elections (pp. 255-273). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198757412.003.0013

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Hakhverdian, A., van Elsas, E., van der Brug, W., & Kuhn, T. (2013). Euroscepticism and education: a longitudinal study of 12 EU member states, 1973-2010. European Union Politics14(4), 522-541. https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116513489779

Hobolt, S. B., van der Brug, W., de Vreese, C. H., Boomgaarden, H. G., & Hinrichsen, M. C. (2011). Religious intolerance and Euroscepticism. European Union Politics12(3), 359-379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116511404620

Erika Johanna Van Elsas & Wouter van der Brug; The Changing Relationship Between Left-Right Ideology and Euroscepticism, 1973-2010, European Union Politics 16(2), DOI: 10.1177/1465116514562918

The populist politics of Euroscepticism in times of crisis: Comparative conclusions — Pirro, Andrea Lp; Taggart, Paul; van Kessel, Stijn Pirro, Andrea L P (Editor) ; Taggart, Paul (Editor) ; van Kessel, Stijn (Editor), Politics, August 2018, Vol.38(3), pp.378-390.

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