• Home
  • Cherry Picked - Financial, migration crises in Europe add to EU skepticism, professor finds

Financial, migration crises in Europe add to EU skepticism, professor finds

Thursday, March 03, 2016

 

LAWRENCE — Mainstream political parties in Europe have failed to respond to the increasing public skepticism of the European Union, opening the door for nationalist political groups to gain more power, a University of Kansas researcher has found.

The fallout of the financial crisis and subsequent bailouts of Greece and other struggling nations, coupled with the recent migration crisis, have further inflamed skepticism toward European integration, said Robert Rohrschneider, KU's Sir Robert Worcester Distinguished Professor of Political Science.

"Since 2007, there has been really a dramatic drop in acceptance of the European Union and further support for integration," he said. "Given their past commitment to integration, mainstream political elites in Europe have really had a difficult time responding quickly to the changing sentiments among mass publics."

Rohrschneider is the lead author of the recent study "Responding to growing European Union skepticism? The stances of political parties toward European integration in Western and Eastern Europe following the financial crisis," published recently in the European Union Politics journal. Rohrschneider and co-author Stephen Whitefield have also published a blog on the study for The London School of Economics and Political Science.

The EU's formation is traced initially to the 1950s, and since then it has included various economic and political partnerships among some 28 member states. This has given Europe global political clout because the region contains an estimated 508 million people.

However, recent events have shifted public opinion on such policies, he said.

"On one hand, mainstream parties would like to go where voters are on integration issues, but on the other hand, most mainstream parties and political elites have supported integration for the past 40-50 years, virtually since the EU's inception," Rohrschneider said.

Even after things seemed to have calmed down after the Greek government-debt crisis last year, the wave of millions of migrants fleeing the Syrian civil war has opened a new set of contentious circumstances for nearly all European nations as leaders decide whether to close borders or seek to manage the flow of migrants, he said.

In some cases the migration crisis has aided nationalist political parties in both Eastern Europe and Greece and more affluent nations like in Germany and France, and political scientists will be watching for how this could shift power in certain states and in turn attitudes toward EU membership in general.

"If right-wing, neo-populist parties become mainstream parties because voters increasingly support them, then the political integration project of Europe will be stalled or perhaps even be reversed," Rohrschneider said.

It could lead to dismantling of free-trade zones and more strict enforcement of national borders, two things that have been hallmarks of European integration in recent decades.

Attitudes of nationalism have also turned ugly, he said.

"That is an unfortunate return to a rhetoric that many observers had thought had been relegated to the dust heaps of history," Rohrschneider said. "It's a huge mess. The dimensionality and complexity of the problems have never been as severe since World War II. There's nothing comparable."

One possibility could be the EU could shrink to a group of core states, mostly in Western and Northern Europe instead of the much larger, expanded set of members.

Perhaps the first domino or at least major test of the EU's future could be the June referendum on Britain's membership. Prime Minister David Cameron, who favors EU membership, at least on economic grounds, also leads a Conservative Party that traditionally has resisted many aspects of European integration, Rohrschneider said. To appease those in his party, Cameron agreed to let the British voters decide.

"If Britain stays in, Europe will have bought a bit of breathing space," Rohrschneider said. "If Britain is out, all bets are open."

Photo: Assistant Secretary Anne Richard and USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg meet with Syrian refugees in this 2012 photo from the State Department. Source: Flickr.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

The State Department is now accepting applications to the Veterans Innovation Partnership, a one year paid opportunity for veterans with graduate degrees interested in foreign affairs and global development careers.  Applications are being accepted 5-17 July!

May is the Month of the Military Caregiver.  KU is proud to recognize JenniferThornton and all Military Caregivers.

Apply for KU Wounded Warrior Scholarship.  Applications due 30 April.  Learn more here.

KU designation as a Department of Defense Language Training Center has been renewed through 2019.​ Learn more here

KU School of Business earns No. 4 spot on Best for Vets list - Learn more here.

Navy veteran who studied for decades finally achieves his graduation goals - See full story here

KU ranked as No. 10 best school in the country for veterans - See more here

 

Get Connected
 
Foreign Area Officer (FAO) video
Foreign Area Officer Program (FAO)



The University of Kansas has been educating U.S. Foreign Area Officers for more than 50 years. The interdisciplinary MA program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at KU is one of the longest established in the nation, having trained more than 60 Foreign Area Officers since 1990. Learn more...

48 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Pharmacy school No. 2 nationally for NIH funding
Hall Center receives 3rd NEH challenge grant to support humanities research collaboration
Regional leader in technology commercialization
12 graduate programs rank in top 10 nationally among public universities.
—U.S. News & World Report
Driving discovery, innovation, entrepreneurship
Home to 15 major research centers & state surveys
1st in nation for its special education master’s and doctorate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
1st in nation for its city management and urban policy master’s program.
—U.S. News & World Report
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
KU Today