Expert panel examines changing attitudes towards the European Union

Dr Simona Guerra from our School of History, Politics and International Relations recently helped to organise an event as part of her current Visiting Fellowship position at the LSEE Research on South Eastern Europe (May-December 2017) examining changing attitudes towards the European Union.

The panel, which took place on Monday 20 November, addressed three different questions: ‘How do attitudes change across public opinion?’, ‘How do attitudes towards migrants relate to the process of EU integration?’, and ‘How and why does the effect of the recent crisis differ between countries?’.

Dr Guerra said: “Previous research examined changes before and after joining the EU across the post-communist region and showed that membership was not considered in terms of the complexities of standardization towards EU norms.

“While the standard assumption in the academic discourse is that Europeanization enhances democracy in candidate countries by strengthening key democratic features (such as helping establish a vibrant civil society, the rule of law, minority rights, good governance, accountability and governmental transparency), this panel explored determinants of attitudes towards EU integration and different experiences.”

The literature mainly focuses on party level Euroscepticism, as opposition to the EU, but the panel suggests that it is fundamental to examine public attitudes at a critical time for the EU, challenged by the recent economic crisis, confronted by the debates following the British referendum (23 June 2016), divided on the refugee crisis, and under threat after the recent terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe itself.

The analysis illustrated different national cases and comparative studies of Ireland, Germany, Poland, Croatia and Serbia, and offered preliminary conclusions in comparative perspective.

The event was organised by Aleksandra Stankova and the LSEE Research on South Eastern Europe.