Why Further European Integration Needs Both Eurosceptics and Europhiles

  • Abstract:

    The crisis of the EU has revealed an antagonizing conflict between Eurosceptics and Europhiles since the integration project has reached a critical juncture. Its polity, however, has little to offer to integrate this conflict into the EU’s political system. Growing Euroscepticism among the people and the elites, defined as anti-system opposition against the supranational system, is the political driving force behind the current fundamental questioning of European integration. Euroscepticism is rooted in an increasing need for further legitimization of EU decision making that has gained significant impact on member states and its citizens. At the same time, the EU faces a loss of governmental capacity that goes hand in hand with depoliticised technocratic decision making. However, as long as the EU fails to integrate organised opposition within the institutions, it will commonly be expressed as Eurosceptic anti-system opposition against the EU as such. Hence, analyzing Euroscepticism helps us understand the real democratic deficit of the EU, which in fact is a lack of government-opposition dynamic at the EU level. Consequently, the polarizing conflict between Eurosceptics and Europhiles should help to enhance the politicization of the EU by providing political alternatives about the manner of European integration and thus fostering both the democratisation of the EU and the transformation of anti-system opposition against the EU towards classical opposition within the EU.