Introduction: Transnational and Pan-European Euroscepticism

John FitzGibbon, Benjamin LERUTH, Nick Startin

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The term Euroscepticism first appeared in the context of the United Kingdom (UK) in the mid-1980s. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a ‘Euro-sceptic’ as a person who is not enthusiastic about increasing the powers of the European Union (EU; see Harmsen and Spiering 2004: 14). It was, however, not until Delors’s three-phase plan for Monetary Union and the subsequent preparations for the 1992 Treaty on European Union (TEU) that opposition towards the EU fully emerged as a major issue across EU nation states. There is no doubt that Maastricht, as the TEU is commonly labelled, acted as a key turning point in the evolution of the Eurosceptic debate. For many supporters and opponents alike it signalled the new politicisation of European integration with the name change from ‘European Community’ to ‘European Union’ a symbolic confirmation of this development. As Usherwood and Startin (2013) testify, it marked the moment when divisions between European and domestic policy within the member states began to become increasingly blurred both in terms of perception and reality and when opposition to ‘Europe’ changed from being a straightforward question concerning the pros and cons of EU membership to one that was couched much more in terms of the rationale of the route that the European project is taking. After Maastricht EU referendums become a feature of the political landscape in certain member states and, partly as a reflection of negative public opinion, politicians in many countries increasingly utilised Eurosceptic discourse to gain political advantage. The result of these post-Maastricht events has been the emergence of Euroscepticism as a permanent feature of national debates on Europe
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuroscepticism as a Transnational and Pan-European Phenomenon
Subtitle of host publicationThe Emergence of a New Sphere of Opposition
EditorsJohn FitzGibbon, Benjamin Leruth, Nick Startin
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315688893
ISBN (Print)9781138917651, 9781138598430
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge/UACES Contemporary European Studies


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