Politicization and reorganization: how the discourse on EU enlargement has modified in European parliaments since 2004



There’s little doubt that the EU enlargement course of has stalled because the ‘massive bang’ enlargement of 2004, however how has the discourse on enlargement modified in European parliaments up to now? throughout this era? Based mostly on a brand new research, Marie-Eve Belanger and Frank Schimmelfennig notice that the discourse on enlargement in European parliaments has been considerably extra restrictive in the course of the 2010s, with the enlargement course of shedding its significance and changing into more and more culturally contested.

The enlargement of the European Union has misplaced momentum. Hailed within the Nineteen Nineties because the Union’s only overseas coverage instrument and credited with the results of a largely meritocratic course of primarily based on the candidates’ liberal democratic credentials, the successive waves of membership have changed into a web because the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

In a single new research, we look at how the discourse on enlargement of parliaments at European and nationwide stage has developed because the ‘massive bang’ of 2004. Has the discourse on enlargement turn into extra adverse and extra unique? And in that case, can we attribute this improvement to partisan politicization of EU enlargement or slightly to democratic stagnation and backtracking?

The ‘reorganization’ of the enlargement discourse

We see the ‘enlargement discourse’ as the combination diagrams of the positions of the actors and the framework they use when discussing the enlargement of the EU. We’re working with an authentic and hand-coded dataset of parliamentary statements on membership of European organizations, overlaying the EP in addition to the (decrease homes) of France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland and the UK, thus together with the previous and new Member States. , massive and small Member States and parliaments within the north, south and east of the EU.

We cowl all enlargement-related debates in these parliaments from 2004 to 2017/18. Our primary unit of research is the enlargement declare, consisting of the place of a person speaker relating to the admission of a selected nation or group of nations into the EU (help, conditional, opposition) – in addition to the key phrases justifying this place (frames).

There are two major kinds of framing. “Spillover” frameworks seek advice from the openness of borders, their malleability and permeability and meritocratic membership standards corresponding to democracy, the rule of regulation and respect for EU conditionality. “ Reorganization ” frameworks seek advice from closed and inflexible borders, to “ neighborhood ” or particularistic enlargement standards corresponding to geographic and cultural traits that candidates for membership can not change, and demarcation values ​​corresponding to identification, homogeneity and safety.

We notice that the discourse on enlargement has certainly turn into an increasing number of restrictive in the course of the 2010s. Enlargement has misplaced its relevance, specifically within the nationwide parliaments of the Member States. Positions on the accession of potential Member States have turn into extra adverse and the framing of enlargement has turn into extra “neighborhood”.

But there are vital variations between parliaments. The EP, Bundestag and Nationwide Meeting have related reasonably optimistic positions on enlargement, whereas the Greek parliament is considerably extra skeptical. Then again, the Hungarian, Polish and British parliaments are extra in favor of enlargement than the EP. Nationwide discourses additionally present attention-grabbing variations between positions and cadres. French, Greek and Hungarian speeches are extra oriented in the direction of reorganization than British, European, German and Polish speeches. Hungary is outstanding in combining among the most favorable positions for enlargement with essentially the most communal framework.

The cultural politicization of enlargement

Within the subsequent step, we analyze the components that form the stance and the framing. Whereas bearing in mind the institutional and (supra) nationwide traits of the EP and nationwide parliaments, we distinguish two units of things: partisanship and the traits of the candidate international locations. Strategic partisanship presupposes that events adapt their positions and their frameworks relying on whether or not they’re in authorities or in opposition. It’s assumed that the opposition events are extra adverse in the direction of enlargement. Then again, ideological partisanship assumes that the positions and cadres of the events depend upon their programmatic positions on the left-right financial and cultural axes of the political battle.

Believable arguments might be made in favor of a cultural and financial battle over enlargement. From an financial perspective, the events of the financial proper ought to welcome the enlargement as a result of it promotes the growth of the market; events on the financial left must be opposed as enlargement places strain on wages and the employment of low-skilled employees in current member states. From a cultural perspective, EU enlargement is a case of pan-European integration and transnational neighborhood constructing. Likewise, enlargement appeals to internationalist and culturally progressive events. On the similar time, enlargement is seen as a risk by culturally conservative and nationalist events.

Alternatively, or as well as, the battle over enlargement might depend upon the traits of the international locations that want to be a part of. Thus, we additionally embrace measures of the political, financial, non secular and geographical distance between the native nation of the audio system and the candidates they’re discussing.

Our evaluation reveals that parliamentary discourse on EU enlargement is characterised by cultural politicization. In all parliaments, members of nationalist and culturally conservative events usually tend to specific a adverse place and use a framework of “reorganization” on enlargement. Then again, we don’t discover a statistically vital impact of financial ideology on the enlargement positions of the events. These outcomes are legitimate regardless of the traits of the candidate international locations for membership.

Trying in additional element on the peculiarities of the candidate international locations, we discover that higher democratic high quality and higher governance are related to extra optimistic positions and open frameworks. This end result confirms the claims of the earlier enlargement literature relating to a normative and meritocratic course of. On the similar time, positions on culturally (Muslim) and geographically extra distant international locations are extra adverse than they need to be if the discourse was strictly meritocratic. Lastly, there’s an interplay impact between the cultural battle between events and the cultural distance between member and non-member states. Cultural rights events usually tend to specific adverse positions on enlargement when referring to Muslim candidates.

Determine 1: Cultural battle between events and positions on enlargement

To notice: Left panel: predictive margins of GalTan positions on the chance of adverse, conditional and optimistic positions; proper panel: predictive margins of GalTan’s positions on the adverse and optimistic positions of Muslim and non-Muslim candidate international locations.

For a visualization of the cultural politicization of the EU enlargement discourse, see the graphs in Determine 1. The left panel reveals that as we transfer from essentially the most socially liberal and internationalist celebration to essentially the most culturally conservative and nationalist, the chance of a adverse place will increase from close to zero to greater than a 3rd, whereas the chance of a optimistic place decreases from 64 to 44 p.c. Whereas culturally liberal parliamentarians usually tend to specific a optimistic stance on enlargement than not, the reverse is true for culturally conservative parliamentarians.

The proper panel provides info on the impact of interplay with faith. For the extra culturally liberal events, the non secular tradition of the acceding nation has no vital impact on the positions they specific. Nonetheless, as we transfer in the direction of the proper finish of the spectrum, the hole widens. Among the many extra culturally conservative and nationalist events, Muslim international locations have a 60% chance of a adverse place, in comparison with a lower than 20% chance for non-Muslim international locations – no matter their democratic deserves, financial state of affairs or place. geographic location. In different phrases, the culturally liberal and conservative events don’t diverge a lot when discussing majority Christian international locations, however massively in terms of Muslim international locations.

In abstract, our outcomes present sturdy help for the politicization of the parliamentary discourse on enlargement within the EU. Ideological and strategic partisanship is intently related to each positions and frameworks of debate. Particularly, the discourse on enlargement is formed by the ideological divide between culturally conservative and liberal events. That the non secular identification of the candidate international locations reinforce this divide, help the cultural interpretation. Then again, the evaluation doesn’t affirm the anticipated affiliation of the positions of the events with the financial ideology or the wealth of the candidate nation.

For extra info, see the authors’ accompanying article within the Journal of European Public Coverage


Observe: this text offers the perspective of the authors and never the place of EUROPP – European Politics and Coverage or the London Faculty of Economics. Featured Picture Credit score: © European Union 2014 – European Parliament




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