Trajectories of attitudes towards European integration

The new member states and beyond

Authored by: Henri Vogt

The Routledge International Handbook of European Social Transformations

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472477941
eBook ISBN: 9781315612942
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315612942-13

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Abstract

This chapter reviews the post-1989 evolution of public attitudes towards ‘Europe’ and European integration in those former communist countries that joined the European Union between 2004 and 2013. These attitudes are systematically compared with those found in the older EU member states. The analysis demonstrates that drawing a clear dividing line between ‘new’ and ‘old’ member states is in many respects no longer justified; the closer we come to the present day, the more we can observe similar disagreements and disputes with respect to ‘Europe’ across the continent. Some regional differences do remain visible in terms of ‘Europeanness’, but these are often not clear-cut, and a host of factors, by no means only the specific historical context of the (re-)introduction of democracy, seem to explain them. The analyses of the prevailing political discourses and available survey evidence shows that attitudinal variation in terms of ‘Europe’ is vast and the divisions are deep, but positive judgements generally prevail. Often, however, people’s views seem context-related and even contingent, dependent on whether they emphasise their short-term instrumental interests or their long-term identity concerns.

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