Hard Eurosceptics can never be convinced of the case for European integration - or can they?

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2007

10 Pages, Grade: 1.5


“Each time we must choose between Europe and the open sea,

we shall always choose the open sea”,

Winston S. Churchill,
Comments to de Gaulle, before
Normandy Landing 6th June 1944

I. Introduction

Signed fifty years ago, the Treaty of Rome proclaimed an “ever closer union”[1] by “establishing a common market and progressive approximation of the economic policies of member states”[2]. This approximation had, however, a negative side effect –opposition to market integration, and after the sequence of enlargements – ardent resistance to any further European integration. Moreover, since the Maastricht Treaty, Eurosceptics have exploited a new battleground: ‘defence of national community’[3] in response to the erosion of national sovereignty and to the heightened job insecurity caused by market unification and liberalization process.

As enlargement process was taking its course, Euroscepticism grew into a potent feature of the political landscape across the EU, by not only shaking confidence in the process of further enlargement, but also ‘provoking several attempts to re-theorize the process of European integration’[4]. Thus, for example, ‘soft eurosceptics’ (definition proposed by Paul Taggart and Aleks Szczerbiak[5] ) opposed to the “EU’s current or future planned trajectory based on the future extension of competencies”[6], whereas the main objective of their ‘hard counterparts’ was “tantamount to being de facto opposed to EU membership”[7].

In this paper we’ll try to analyse a phenomenon of hard Euroscepticism in the European Union by presenting Danish and British cases. We’ll demonstrate that sometimes hard Eurosceptic parties can be convinced of the case for European integration, despite their ardent anti-EU positions.

II. Eurosceptics yesterday and today: changes and stability

Coined in the British political and media usage in the late 1970s and used as a synonym for the older ‘anti-markeeter’[8] to describe popular British opposition towards European integration, in our days Euroscepticism is vividly present not only in the UK, but also in other parts of the enlarged Europe. The UK, Sweden, and Denmark, for example, declined full participation in the Economic and Monetary Union. Non-members (Norway, Iceland and especially, the German-speaking cantons in Switzerland) were reluctant to expand ties with the EU or accept membership. In the recent years, hard Euroscepticism has grown in the new member states in Central and Eastern Europe (particular, in Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic), as a trend for preserving national sovereignty in the face of European integration with the reference to particular collective national identities and symbols.

Exactly the issue of preservation of national identity and sovereignty was a principal element in the rhetoric of hard Eurosceptics in the Nordic countries and Britain. Notwithstanding the negative feelings towards the EU, some political parties in these countries could manage to find compromise and to adopt their political agenda to the current situation.

2.1. Nordic countries: Denmark

Supporting an old Nordic tradition to trade without entering into the binding treaties with other states and being devoted to their neutral political position, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland have historically resisted the idea of European unity, being absent at the creation of the Treaty of Rom, but eventually joined the EFTA. Due to “the growing interdependence of European political economies and the changing distribution of military power, requiring the reassessment of economic and security policies”[9], in the mid-1980s the Nordic states had to alter substantially the nature of their relations with the EEC pursuing closer cooperation. Beside Iceland and Norway, which are the most resistant to joining the EU, other Nordic states have shifted their economic and security preferences from the national welfare states to the European level.


[1] Preamble, Treaty of Rome

[2] Art. 2, Treaty of Rome

[3] Hooghe, Lisbet, and Marks, Gary, Sources of Euroscepticism, Acta Politica, 2007, 42, p. 121

[4] Ibid., p. 119

[5] Taggart, Paul, and Szczerbiak, Aleks, The Party Politics of Euroscepticism in EU Member and Candidate States, ECPR Papers, Turin, March, 2002, p. 4

[6] Ibid., p. 5

[7] Ibid., p. 4

[8] Harsen, Robert, A dual exceptionalism: British and French patterns of Euroscepticism in wider comparative perspective, Centre for the Study of Democratic Government, European Research Group, 2005, p. 1 (http://erg.politics.ox.ac.uk/projects/national_identity/papers.asp, assessed 22.10.2007)

[9] Ingebritsen, Christine, The Nordic States and European Unity, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998, p.12

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Hard Eurosceptics can never be convinced of the case for European integration - or can they?
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Nataliya Gudz (Author), 2007, Hard Eurosceptics can never be convinced of the case for European integration - or can they?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/116371


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