Criticism of Europe belongs to the democratic process
Euroscepticism is growing in Europe. EU advocates take critical statements as a threat to the European integration process. How should we deal with Eurosceptics? Is their strong criticism really so irrational and dangerous? WZB researcher Pieter de Wilde and Hans-Jörg Trenz from the University of Oslo have looked into the development and effectiveness of Euroscepticism in political discourse. Their findings can be read in the current issue of the European Journal of Social Theory.
De Wilde and Trenz have discovered that Eurocritical comments unfolds primarily through mass media, while the dominant parties in the EU barely leave any room for critical theses. The internet plays a significant role therein, because it offers Eurosceptics a forum.
In the article, the researchers develop a typology of existing opinions and assessments of the EU. They show that besides the pure EU advocates and adversaries, there are other positions, like for example, the pragmatists who oppose EU integration, but support it only because all other alternatives to a European Union would be too cost intensive.
Both researchers are of the opinion that Euroscepticism is not an objectionable dismantling of European ideas, but is rather part of the democratization process within the EU. It will play an important role in public discourse for as long as important principles of democratization and participation in the European process of unification remain unfulfilled.
Pieter de Wilde and Hans-Jörg Trenz: Denouncing European integration: Euroscepticism as polity contestation. In: European Journal of Social Theory, online first, March 2012.