Euroskepticism, a Multifaceted Phenomenon
- Patrick BijsmansPatrick BijsmansDepartment of Political Science, Maastricht University
In an age of Brexit, Euroskepticism has become a central element in debates about Europe. It is generally believed that there has been an increase in criticism on and opposition toward the European Union (EU) and its policies since the 1991 Maastricht Treaty. Yet, criticism was already present at the start of the integration process, also among mainstream parties in the six founding members. With the EU’s recent crises, Euroskepticism has become embedded in contestation in most member states, affecting politics at the national and European level. Consequently, it is important to understand Euroskepticism in contemporary Europe and to gather a broad overview of its development, its meaning, and its wider consequences.
Euroskepticism is a diverse, multifaceted phenomenon that varies across time, member states, and policies. Exploring the history of Euroskepticism helps to contextualize contemporary developments and to understand some of the main debates and issues in the field, including conceptual challenges, but also debates about the reasons for Euroskepticism and what kind of impact it might have. One of the key questions in this respect is whether Euroskepticism should be seen as a problematic phenomenon or as an essential element of a democratic Europe. While conventional negative connotations associated with Euroskepticism suggest the former, research finds a broader variety of criticism and opposition to the EU and its policies that may be conducive to a more democratic EU debate.