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Session Overview
RN32_10a_IC: Europe, EU, (EU-)Scepticism and Nation-States
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Ov Cristian Norocel, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Location: Intercontinental - Ypsilon II
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Level 1

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The ‘European Integration Paradox’ - How EU practice changes MP’s discourse on the future of parliamentary institutions in the EU

Anja Thomas

Sciences Po Paris, France

The paper investigates into the paradoxical effects of the ‘Making of Europe’ on the ideas of political actors about the EU’s political order. Taking a micro-sociological perspective, the paper shows how the practice of ‘doing EU’ of national Members of Parliament shapes the way they conceive of the future of parliamentary institutions in the EU in parliamentary debates.

The paper uses a double comparative research design to compare MPs’ EU practice and discourse across two parliamentary chambers with substantially different roles in the national parliamentary systems (Assemblée nationale and Bundestag) and across two time periods with low (1979-1999) and high (2000-2013) impact of EU legislation on national parliaments.

EU practice is analysed through ‘thick description’ (Clifford Geertz) based on interview evidence with current and historic parliamentary actors and the study of documents and secondary literature. MPs’ discourse is analysed through a systematic qualitative-quantitative discourse-analysis of parliamentary debates on the most far-reaching treaty changes in each period (treaty of Maastricht and treaty of Lisbon) with the help of the software MAXQDA.

The paper finds that with a low level of EU practice, discourse about the role of the European Parliament and the national parliaments for EU decision-making depends most on MPs’ ideologies on the future shape of European integration. Only in the second time-period analysed, national parliamentary roles are of paramount importance. The paper adds a further element to understand a potential ‘Unmaking of Europe’: frames derived from national institutions do not loose importance, but are reinforced (unconsciously) through EU practice.

Public support or opposition to ‘Social Europe’: Going beyond Euroscepticism?

Sharon Baute, Bart Meuleman

University of Leuven, Belgium

For a long time, European integration was understood as being a project of open economies and closed welfare states, in which economic growth resulting from market liberalization would preserve the autonomy of the nationally-bounded welfare states. However, the EU has started to engage more actively in European-level social policymaking that affects social welfare in the various member states. In the light of these developments and the current context of rising Euroscepticism, voters’ preferences towards the social dimension of European integration are becoming an increasingly important area of interest. This study analyses public attitudes towards ‘Social Europe’ empirically in a multidimensional way, capturing attitudes towards current EU social policy principles or instruments (a European social citizenship, member state solidarity, social regulations) and towards a proposed future policy instrument based on interpersonal solidarity (a European social security system). A focus on specific aspects or transformations of the European integration process is essential to study input and output legitimacy, though the question remains whether or not they are reflecting a more general overarching attitude towards European integration as such. Up to now, the relationship between diffuse Euroscepticism and specific attitudes towards European integration in social policy is not fully understood. Using data of the 2014 Belgian National Election Study, this research unravels to what extent public support or opposition towards ‘Social Europe’ reflects an overall evaluation of European integration. Are attitudes towards ‘Social Europe’ merely a reflection of diffuse Euroscepticism or do ideological and socio-economic cleavages remain important regarding the social dimension of European integration?

European Union and Nation State – An Institutional Balancing Act

Hanna Rautajoki

University of Tampere, Finland

European Union is in turmoil. Struggling with financial crisis, massive floods of migration and most recently Brexit has made the institutional scaffold of the union shatter. In my postdoctoral research project I am investigating governmental rhetoric in and about the EU in its contemporary challenges. I’m analyzing political discourse in documents on EU from the perspective of neoinstitutionalism and epistemic governance, taking it that political commitments are suggested, maintained and renewed by working on actors’ perceptions of the world. In that respect, it is not that the current circumstances with enhanced national sentiments arising, bring into the discourse something new in relation to the foundations of the union. It’s rather that the horizon of principles grounding EU as an institution is shifting in emphasis. From the start, European Union has been a special kind of political organization. It is based on a contract between nation states to sign away political power to a centralized supranational governance. National sovereignty has been traded for membership in this union. Consequently, the union has given rise to the relevance of parallel sets of institutional principles and sites for political address and identification. National engagements live on on the side of union agreements providing suggestive material for various kind of political persuasion. My project will illuminate and unravel the double standard of commitments embedded in the range of current discourse about European Union as a political organization. Explicating the constitutive rhetoric of EU aims to deepen our understanding of the controversy flaming at its core.

The Troika in its own words: Continuity and change in the dominant narrative(s) of the southern European crisis (2009-2016)

Tiago Moreira Ramalho

Sciences Po, Centre d’études européennes (CEE), CNRS, Paris, France

The terms of conditionality of the bailout programmes in Greece, Portugal and Spain were heavily grounded on the Troika’s understanding of each one of these crises. The implementation of the programmes, however, led the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to adjust their views throughout the period. In order to assess the evolution of the stances of each institution, this paper examines a large pool of official statements produced by the members of the Troika regarding the three southern European countries during 2009-2016. The analysis thus makes a contribution to the evaluation of the conditions of stability of the dominant narrative as well as the process of permanent re-legitimation of the Memoranda of Understanding.

Tracking Down The Rise of Euroscepticism in Turkish Media: An Analysis of Discourses on EU in Turkish Pro-Government Newspapers

Nergis Denli

Beykent University, Turkey

In the light of latest developments during the year of 2016 both in foreign and domestic policy, the tension between EU and Turkish government seems to increase gradually particularly with respect to the debate of convergence/divergence in terms of EU’s fundamental principles. The refugee crisis, visa liberalization deal, terrorism, the latest coup attempt in Turkey, ongoing debate on death penalty and lastly the EP’s decision to suspend talks with Turkey on EU membership, triggered the criticism and skepticism toward both EU and Turkey’s EU politics, especially in the pro-government newspapers in Turkey. Focusing predominantly on the narratives concerning EU’s response to these controversial issues, in this paper, the reflections of the rise of euroscepticism and the discourses on divergence from EU operating in Turkish media are analyzed with a body of articles from selected pro-government newspapers published online in 2016. Speeches of Turkish government officials regarding Turkey- EU relations reflected in the press and severe criticism targeting EU and its representatives questioning and criticizing the potency, efficiency and even the existential roots of EU are analyzed interrogating how skepticism reveals itself out through the ways the news are covered on these controversial issues.

Keywords: European Union, Turkey- EU relations, EU membership, euroscepticism, media.

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