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The Eurosceptic Surge and How to Respond to It

Leonard, M. & Torreblanca, I. (2014) “The Eurosceptic Surge and How to Respond to It“, Policy Brief, European Council on Foreign Relations, 08 Μαΐου.


Pollsters are predicting a Eurosceptic surge at the European elections, which take place at a time when the European Union is going through the worst economic and political crisis in its history. Although the main pro-European forces want to turn this election into a left–right contest for the nomination of the next European Commission president, the real contest will be between them and the Eurosceptic forces, which are likely to become the third political force in the European Parliament. This brief examines how big the Eurosceptic surge is likely to be, what its impact may be, and how pro-European forces should deal with it. Although the Eurosceptics will not be able to stop the integration of the eurozone, they could significantly slow it down and further undermine the legitimacy of the EU. The Eurosceptics do not need a majority in the European Parliament to impose their agenda. In fact, the real danger is the way they may influence the agenda of the mainstream parties – in particular at the national level. The Eurosceptics are shaping a public discourse that associates Europe with immigration, austerity, and loss of sovereignty, and that increases pressure for “less Europe” rather than “more Europe”. But rather than huddling together in a “Europe cartel”, pro-Europeans should try to create the space for political battles between competing visions of Europe.


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