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 Euroscepticism “expresses 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.
Flood, C. and Soborski, R. (2017) ‘Euroscepticism as ideology’. In B. Leruth, N. Startin and S. Usherwood (eds) Routledge Handbook of Euroscepticism. Routledge, 36–47.
Baute, S., Meuleman, B., Abts, K., Swyngedouw, M. (2018). European integration as a threat to social security: Another source of Euroscepticism? European Union Politics, 19 (2), 209-232. doi: 10.1177/1465116517749769 Open Access
Abts, K., Heerwegh, D., Swyngedouw, M. (2009). Sources of Euroscepticism: utilitarian interest, social distrust, national identity and institutional distrust. World Political Science Review, 5 (1), Art.No. 3, 1-26. doi: 10.2202/1935-6226.1057
Putting Brexit into perspective: the effect of the Eurozone and migration crises and Brexit on Euroscepticism in European states; Aleks Szczerbiak, Journal of European Public Policy, 3 Aug 2018, 25(8):1194-1214.
Contemporary research on Euroscepticism: The state of the art, Aleks Szczerbiak, Taggart P, The Routledge Handbook of Euroscepticism, 28 Jul 2017, 11-21.
Coming in from the Cold? Euroscepticism, Government Participation and Party Positions on Europe, Taggart P, Szczerbiak A.; Journal of Common Market Studies, 2013, 51(1):17-37.
Introduction: Opposing Europe? The Politics of Euroscepticism in Europe, Taggart P, Szczerbiak A., Opposing Europe: The Comparative Party Politics of Euroscepticism in Europe. Volume One: Case Studies and Country Surveys, 24 Apr 2008.
Opposing Europe or problematizing Europe? Euroscepticism and ‘Eurorealism’ in the Polish party system, Szczerbiak A., Case Studies and Country Surveys, 24 Apr 2008, 1:221-242.
Theorising Party-Based Euroscepticism: Problems of Definition, Measurement and Causality, Szczerbiak A, Taggart P., Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives, 24 Apr 2008, 2:238-262.
Introduction: researching euroscepticism in European party systems: a comparative and theoretical research agenda, Szczerbiak A, Taggart P., Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives, Apr 2008, 2:1-27.
Contemporary Euroscepticism in the party systems of the European Union candidate states of Central and Eastern Europe, Taggart P, Szczerbiak A; European Journal of Political Research, 1 Jan 2004, 43(1):1-27.
Polish euroscepticism in the run-up to EU accession, Szczerbiak A, European Studies – An Interdisciplinary Series in European Culture, History and Politics, Jan 2004, 247-268.
Supporting the Union? Euroscepticism and domestic politics of European integration, Taggart P, Szczerbiak A, Developments in the European Union, 2004.
Europeanisation, euroscepticism and party systems: Party‐based euroscepticism in the candidate states of Central and Eastern Europe, Taggart P, Szczerbiak A, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 1 Jan 2002, 3(1):23-41.
Parties, Positions and Europe: Euroscepticism in the EU Candidate States of Central and Eastern Europe, Taggart P, Szczerbiak A., May 2001.
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
Pirro, Andrea, Taggart, Paul and van Kessel, Stijn, eds. (2018) Special Issue: The populist politics of Euroscepticism in times of crisis. Politics, 38 (3). ISSN 0263-3957
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
Todd, John (2016). Safer to stand alone once more? The Securitisation of Europe in the British Eurosceptic Discourse, in Kvam, Sigmund et al (eds.) Language and Nation: Crossroads and Connections. Waxmann Verlag.
Kunst, S. C., Kuhn, T., & van de Werfhorst, H. G. (2020). Does education decrease Euroscepticism? A regression discontinuity design using compulsory schooling reforms in four European countries. European Union Politics, 21(1), 24-42. https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116519877972
Kuhn, T., van Elsas, E., Hakhverdian, A., & van der Brug, W. (2016). An ever-wider gap in an ever-closer union: Rising inequalities and euroscepticism in 12 West European democracies, 1975-2009. Socio-Economic Review, 14(1), 27-45. https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwu034
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 Politics, 39(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
van Elsas, E., & van der Brug, W. (2015). The changing relationship between left-right ideology and euroscepticism, 1973-2010. European Union Politics, 16(2), 194-215. https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116514562918
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 Politics, 14(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 Politics, 12(3), 359-379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116511404620
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.
Populist Eurosceptic trajectories in Italy and the Netherlands during the European crises Pirro, Andrea Lp; van Kessel, Stijn Pirro, Andrea L P (Editor); Taggart, Paul (Editor); van Kessel, Stijn (Editor), Politics, August 2018, Vol.38(3), pp.327-343.