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

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 enflamed 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.

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 has given Europe global political clout because the region contains an estimated 508 million people. Proponents have argued the union has led to economic prosperity through free-trade zones and other economic policies.

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 up 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 observed 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."
-end-


University of Kansas

Related Financial Crisis Articles from Brightsurf:

Helping consumers in a crisis
A new study shows that the central bank tool known as quantitative easing helped consumers substantially during the last big economic downturn -- a finding with clear relevance for today's pandemic-hit economy.

On the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis
This essay describes observations of the qualities developed by hospital staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers happy despite crisis and uncertainty
In general, workers in Switzerland and Germany are coping well with the COVID-19 crisis and the associated social disruption.

Cancer survivors' experiences with financial toxicity
A recent Psycho-Oncology analysis of published studies found that few cancer survivors received financial information support from healthcare facilities during their initial treatment, even though cancer-related financial toxicity has multiple impacts on survivors' health and quality of life.

Keep children from hospital during crisis
With stressed hospital services, and concerns about the spread of COVID-19, experts are reminding carers of children and young people of the importance of safely adhering to their supported chronic condition self-management plans from the safety of their home.

What helps couples weather financial storms
In financially challenging times, it's especially important to show your partner love and support, says researcher Ashley LeBaron, who studied what contributes to couples' success in financially stressful times.

Life expectancy crisis in the USA: The opioid crisis is not the decisive factor
Cardiovascular diseases -- rather than drug deaths due to the opioid crisis -- have the greatest impact on stagnating life expectancy in the USA.

Biodiversity yields financial returns
Farmers could increase their revenues by increasing biodiversity on their land.

American cancer survivors face substantial financial hardship and financial sacrifices
American cancer survivors, particularly those 64 years or younger, faced substantial medical financial hardship and sacrifices in spending, savings, or living situation, according to data from a survey.

Financial therapy can aid well-being, stability
Financial therapy could help couples navigate disagreements, money concerns and financial conflicts before these issues tear relationships apart.

Read More: Financial Crisis News and Financial Crisis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.