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European Stability Initiative (ESI) is a site where you can find reports on South Eastern Europe and European enlargement Policy. Recent projects are about the situation in Turkey and EU policy on Visa-Free Travel for the Western Balkan.

Quarterly theme: Euroscepticism in Europe

EUDemocrats: “Eurosceptics” are “EU-critics” or “EU-reformists”

According to the world’s biggest on-line encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, "Euroscepticism has become a general term for opposition to the process of integration". This definition reflects quite well the general misconception floating around the word "euroscepticism". "Eurosceptics" are found to be leftists, rightists, ecologists, libertarians, nationalists and even federalists. It is not rare, indeed, to hear critics about a lack of transparency or democracy in Europe among the very pro-European group of federalists.

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So what are you for? - Independence/Democracy Group in the European Parliament

As the media officer for the Independence/Democracy Group in the European Parliament I was delighted to be invited to provide a discourse on precisely that question. OK, so you are in the European Parliament the most avowedly federalist of the European institutions and you, as a group set your face against further integration. Aren't you barking up the wrong tree?

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The Alternatives of Attac

Attac is an international organisation advocating alternatives for neoliberalism with chapters in some fifty countries, both in Europe and in Latin America, as well as in Asia and Africa. Both in France and in the Netherlands, in 2005 national Attac chapters played an important role in the campaigns against the European Constitution. In both countries the European Constitution was rejected by an ample majority.

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British Euroscepticism

Now in use world wide, the term ‘Euroscepticism’ was coined in the 1980s by the British media as they reported on the various stand-offs between the Thatcher government and the European Commission. Since then in Britain the term has become associated especially with so-called ‘hard Eurosceptics’, i.e. persons who demand dissolution of the European Union, or at least complete withdrawal of their member state. British groups that are critical only of aspects of the EU (such as the ‘Euro No’ campaign which wants the UK to remain out of the Monetary Union) stress that they do not consider themselves ‘Eurosceptic’. The more radical groups, on the other hand, tend to embrace the term as a badge of honour

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Poland: From pro-European to Euro-Atlantic

Euroscepticism is not particularly popular in Poland. Ever since the country regained its independence from Soviet rule, Europe has been the obvious choice for Polish politicians, even though initially only few of them believed a membership of the European institutions could be achieved on a short term. For the average Pole, Europe represents not only welfare, freedom and democracy, but also a civilisation that distinguishes Poland from (non-European) cultures like Russia, still identified by many as Poland’s main enemy. For a long time, euroscepticism has therefore been the sole domain of extremist parties and individuals in the margin of the political scene. Apart from that, virtually the entire political panorama can be considered pro-European, if not out of love for Europe, then at least for the sheer lack of an alternative. This goes not only for liberal parties like the Civic Platform (PO) and centrists like the Democrats, but also – notably – for the post-communist Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD).

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Tackling distrust in the EU, the basis of euroscepticism in Croatia

Just as in some other European countries (e.g. the referendums on the European Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands in 2005), there is a gap between the political elite and the citizens of Croatia with regard to the popularity of the European integration process. While there is hardly any euroscepticism amongst the political elite of Croatia, research points out that the public opinion on European integration has changed in the last few years from supportive to more sceptical. In 'Euroscepticism in Croatia: On the far side of rationality?' Aleksander Štulhofer describes his research on the main characteristics of popular (of the people) euroscepticism in Croatia and gives some recommendations on how to tackle this.

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Bulgaria and euroscepticism – distant, but maybe not that far apart

A brief survey among different Bulgarian political observers with the question “Can you identify a Eurosceptic Bulgarian organisation?” would yield to an almost unanimous answer: “Ataka”.

Ataka (Attack) was established as a movement only months before the 2005 general elections and then successfully positioned itself as the fourth largest party in parliament, later confirming that position in the elections for the European Parliament.

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European integration seen by Romanian citizens and the European Parliamentary elections

The forthcoming European Parliamentary elections should be an important political event, marking another step in Romanian’s long way to European integration. Besides receiving the more or less important European Commissioner for Multilingualism post for a bureaucrat, Romania would have its legitimated voice heard in European agora. Moreover, EU sounds excellent, the May 2007 Barometer of Public Opinion revealing that EU is the third institution as degree of trust after the Church and the Army. All in all, it should be an important event. Nevertheless, here we are, two months before the elections and any debate on European issues is absent. But this is only an apparent paradox. To become important, elections need to have both a political stake and issues to debate on, aspects that miss at the moment.

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Dutch voters deserve a referendum on the new EU Treaty

The Dutch government claims to believe that the new European Reform Treaty, intended to replace the rejected text, does not have 'constitutional' implications. This new treaty, they argue, would represent merely a routine series of amendments and in terms of style, content and magnitude would be completely different from the one against which we successfully campaigned in 2005. For these reasons our government sees no need for a second referendum on the treaty.

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UK Independence Party on EU: 'It isn't their business, it's ours'

In a speech to congress in 1917, Woodrow Wilson said “the world must be made safe for democracy.” This was the attitude which took place after the end of the Second World War, when leaders in Europe wanted to make sure they did not fight again. 60 years on, and the people of Europe are now facing a new crisis, not of war, but of that democracy which Wilson spoke about 90 years before.

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