The Role and Impact of Migration and Euroscepticism in Promoting 'Multi-Speed' Europe

AuthorAlin Avramescu Stefanita
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2017
The Role and Impact of Migration and Euroscepticism in Promoting
Multi-Speed Europe
Alin Avramescu Stefanita1
Abstract: The year 2017 was designed at the level of European public opinion as the crucial moment for the evolution of the
European Union. Scenarios and speculatio n have sprouted European media channels, creating a s tate of tension within the
Member States. Today, the European Union resembles with the European Concert after the 1815 peace in Vienna, which was
based on the balance of power, than with the Europe of the founding fathers, based on the harmonization of interests and the
joy of working together for the common good European. To open the debate about EU’s future, the European Commission
turned to the scenario method. This is not the first time this is the case. In oth er cases, the scenarios referred to a specific type
of common European policy. Looking at the figures for confidence in their own governments and in the European Union in the
autumn 2016 Eurobarometer, it was clear that in the Member States, officials in leadership positions had to guide their decisions
according to citizens' attitudes if they wanted to remain in power or to win elections. At the same time, mistrust had to be
transformed into trust by decisions taken to satisfy citizens. The political context in which the Member States are located must
not be overlooked. In the last year, elections took place in Austria, the Netherlands, France and will take place in Germany.
Therefore, the influence of the electoral factor cannot be neglected as part of b uilding decisions on the position adopted by a
state within the European Union.
Keywords: Migration; Euroscepticism; European Union
Over time, Euroscepticism was thought to be just a British trend, a British dissatisfaction with European
construction. Over the years, Euroscepticism has become a true political phenomenon at European level,
one embraced more and more by Member States. Since the 1990s, Euroscepticism has passed the
English Channel and has grown on the continent, in the countries behind the European construction.
France, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Austria, but also in many other member states of the European
Union have appeared parties that, in the idea of promoting national sovereignty, national interests to the
detriment of the common European ones, have developed the eurosceptic spirit towards the European
construction . The National Front in France, the 5-Star Movement in Italy, the Geert Wilders Liberation
Party in the Netherlands, and other nationalist formations in the European political spectrum have
promoted a Eurosceptic speech in the last few years, one in which they claim that the European Union
is a failed project, whose future is uncertain, even talking about a necessity for the Union to collapse.
For many years this speech has been contradicted by pro-Europeans, by political leaders in Brussels
who ignored or even defied the warnings of the Eurosceptics. Politicians who made a grim vision of the
future of the European Union have always been treated as enemies of European construction. More and
more frequent victories of Eurosceptic politicians should have raised questions.
The idea of Euroscepticism is not a recent one, and it emerged in the 1980s to describe the British
mistrust in the European integration project. The term has become generalized over time to define all
1 PhD in progress, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania, Address: Expoziției
2 Blvd., 012103 Bucharest, Romania, Corresponding author:
International Relations in the Contemporary World. Geopolitics and Diplomacy
those who are against the enlargement of the European Union. The development of the term
Euroscepticism has seen three major stages. (Vasilopoulou, 2013, pp. 153-168)
First, a structural change in Euroscepticism has emerged since the 1990s with the ratification of the
Maastricht Treaty. (Eichenberg & Dalton, 2007) The significant increase in the European Union's
competences, together with a broader consultation of citizens through the referendum, led to the end of
what is called the permissive consensus1 of views on European integration, meaning the end of the
tacit consent of citizens regarding the European integration in the early 1950s, which underpinned the
legitimacy of the functionalist approach of the Union.
Second, the negative response that France and the Netherlands gave the Constitutional Treaty in 2005,
followed by the Irish negative response to the Treaty of Lisbon in 2008, posed challenges for the
permissive consensus foundation. From this point, Hooghe and Marks have developed the theory of
constraining the disagreement, marked by an increase in the nature of dividing European questions
and their use by political actors. (Hogge & Marks, 2008)This theory refers to the emergence of a political
division on European issues and a politicization of public opinion on European affairs. (Belot, Cautrès,
& Strudel, 2013)
Thirdly, the crises affecting the European Union have led to a decline in citizens' support and confidence
in the Union and its institutions2. Only a third of Europeans say they trust the community institutions,
that is, the lowest level ever achieved. Most citizens believe that their voice is not heard in the European
institutions. However, there is a link between trust and support for the political system that forms the
basis of the legitimacy of the system in question3.
In several European countries, a recent wave has emerged regarding support for conservative populist
parties, and Eurosceptic parties. Discontent with EU regulations, the large number of migrants coming
from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan to the European continent have
created a whole new problem for the nations of Europe. This has overwhelmed many of the citizens of
these countries to the point where they fear that there is a cultural threat to the traditions and way of life.
The reflection on the future of Europe stems from the very founding moment: the 1957 Treaty of Rome
represented the victory of the federalists, or rather the functionalists, gathered around the France-
Germany duo, against the intergovernmentalists gathered around the Great Britain. (Burgess, 2000)
After 1957, the periods of political upheaval of the EU's political integration alternated with periods of
rebound or stagnation of integration, generally synchronous with global developments.
Since the 1980s, the neoliberal ideology (the combination of liberalization / expansion of deregulated
markets with the reversal of the evolving process of social emancipation) has influenced the options
within the EU. The first germs of neoliberalism were introduced, paradoxically, even in the Single
European Act, apparently prominently pro-integration. The moments of further integration, the most
1 The expression "permissive consensus" was invented by V. O. Jr. Key, Public Opinion and American Democracy. New York,
Alfred A. Knopf, 1961 and was taken up again for the first time regarding European integration by Lindberg and Steingold in
assessment of the support of public opinion to European integration in L. N. Lindberg and S. A. Scheingold, Europe's Would
Be Polity. Patterns of Change in the European Community, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1970
2 B. Cautrès, “Un effondrement de la con fiance dans l’UE? Les attitudes des Européens vis-à-vis de l'Europe au cours de la
Grande Récession, in (Blot, Rozenberg, Saraceno, & Streho, 2014)
3 On this point see for example, C. Belot, Support (by the citizens of the EU) is the cornerstone to this citizenship since it
represents an initial form of recognition of the legitimacy of the European political system, Les lo giques sociologiques de
soutien au processus d'intégration européenne: éléments d'interprétation", Revue internationale de politique comparée, 9 (1),
2002, p. 12.

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