Getting out and about

Many members of the School are currently in Canada, attending the International Studies Association annual meeting in Toronto.

Obviously, this puts a bit of a damper on my regular blogging, so instead I’ve linked through to a couple of pieces that I’ve written for other organisations.

Firstly, for Policy Network, I’ve written about the plurality of euroscepticisms that exist. I outline of the diversity that typifies sceptical action and the failure of the EU to address this. I conclude with these thoughts:

“The achievement – and it is an achievement – of bringing together left and right, federalists and intergovernmentalists, rich and poor has blinded the Union to the need to bring in those who have doubts into the process.

“In practical terms, that means a partnership of EU institutions and member states in creating spaces for public debate and education, so that citizens can better understand their ability to influence what happens. It requires an EU communication strategy that flows up to the Union, rather than down to citizens. And it needs a political class – national and European – that is willing to have a full and frank debate about the options available for the Union and the implications of those options. None of these are simple to secure, but all are necessary if a sustainable form of European cooperation is to be maintained, of any form.

“The suspicion with which sceptics are treated and the sense that any concession is going to be the thin end of a very big wedge are both factors that will limit the ability of the Union to start making this change. But at a time of economic weakness and a lack of scope for producing substantial policy outputs – climate change? Eurozone growth? Foreign policy? – has to learn that pride is a dangerous attitude to hold. By engaging with the critiques that sceptics offer and by working with them to find mutually acceptable solutions, the Union can not only start to get a handle on the present, but also lay the foundations for its future.”

Secondly, for the LSE’s EUROPP blog, I extend some of the ideas of diversity into the specific context of the forthcoming European elections. Here, I finish thus:

“Eurosceptics are divided by more than what they share in their scepticism. Beyond noting their dislike of the EU, they struggle to agree on why they dislike it and – even more so – what should be done about it.

“The upshot is that while sceptics are likely to do well in May, their impact on either the Parliament or the Union more generally will be relatively small, for the reasons outlined above. The real danger will lie in pro-integration elements assuming that this will solve the underlying problems. In that case, 2014 risks looking like a gentle preparation for what is to come in 2019.”

The common theme is that while euroscepticism might suffer from structural limitations, that shouldn’t be an excuse for inaction. Whether that will be the case will only become clear in the next months.