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Euroscepticism, Pragmatism and European Integration

Richard Rose

The paper's object is to show the difference between a sceptical and pragmatic approach to EU issues and the implications this has for European integration. In EU discourse the label Euroscepticism has been distorted, by both its supporters and opponents. To define Euroscepticism as opposition to all forms of European integration, including the EU's status quo, makes it an ideology that does not evaluate policies; it is against any and all forms of EU action. Such a narrow definition is useful to proponents of integration since it minimizes and marginalizes criticism of the EU. A pragmatic diagnosis of policy issues is without an a priori ideological commitment for or against the EU. It asks: What is the problem for which collective EU action is proposed? What are the causes of the problem, national, trans-national and global? What options are there outside as well as inside the framework of the EU? How much support is there for EU action within the European Council and Parliament? If the answers to these questions are positive, then a policy can be endorsed for its immediate benefits; any furthering of EU integration is accepted as an incidental by-product. Different answers to the same question can be given by the Commission (in favour of more integration); national governments (agreeing about what the consequences are but disagreeing among themselves about desirability); and public opinion (the median citizen favouring the status quo rather than being commitment to more or less integration on principle). The paper will conclude by setting out implications of the pragmatism/euroscepticism distinction for enhanced co-operation by some but not all EU member states

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