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'Another Europe is Possible': Pro-European Euroscepticism in French and Irish EU Referendum Votes

John FitzGibbon

Using evidence from the No campaigns in two EU referendums - the 2005 French EU Constitutional Treaty referendum and the 2012 Irish Fiscal Compact referendum - this paper argues that these campaigns represented a challenge to existing concepts of Euroscepticism. The leading protagonists in the No campaigns in these two referendums strongly contested the concept of European integration presented to them in both referendums, but crucially, withdrawalist arguments were almost wholly marginalized in both cases. Rather referendum opponents sought to argue that 'another Europe is possible' as a No vote would force EU leaders to pursue the alternative policies they proposed to take European integration in a new direction. The paper seeks to rationalize such apparent pro-European activity with existing approaches to understanding Euroscepticism. Drawing on elite interviews and primary document analysis it argues that where referendums on the EU take place, the trajectory of European integration becomes an issue of political contestation. In the case of Ireland such contestation has had real policy outcomes at the European level. The paper concludes on how these findings potentially impact on our understanding of both opposition to the EU and of the European political sphere.

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