Some people are Euro-sceptical because of the European Union's corruption and weak economic performance; the Euro-scepticism of others is rooted in a principled objection to nation states losing yet more sovereign powers.
A Euro-sceptic is a person who doubts the desirability of the European Union’s quest for “ever closer union”. Most Euro-sceptics do not dislike other European nations and it is wrong to dub them as ‘anti-European’, therefore. Euro-scepticism is not usually directed towards the peoples of Europe but to the institutions and superstate ambitions of the European Union.
Three different forms of Euro-scepticism are briefly unpacked below:
This group of Euro-sceptics does not oppose the European Union in principle but it has come to believe that it doesn’t really work. Members of this group have watched the eurozone economies under-perform and they’ve recoiled from the corruption of the Brussels bureaucracy.
Euro-enthusiasts know that this group of Euro-sceptics holds the key to whether Britain will ever give up the pound or sign up to the EU Constitution. All pro-EU propaganda will be targeted on these pragmatic sceptics in the hope that they can be persuaded that the EU can be reformed for the better.
Big world Euro-sceptics
These islands’ opponents of the European project are often smeared as little Englanders. Although some opponents of European integration are xenophobic it is the EU that is really the world’s selfish giant. Big world Euro-sceptics despair of the corruption that has bedeviled Brussels’ aid policies; the EU’s protectionism; and its lost-in-the-world-of-10th-September attitude to the terror threat. They have had enough of the EU’s poseur multilateralism and believe that alliances with Anglosphere nations and the Commonwealth might better serve Britain’s global permanent interests.
National sovereignty Euro-sceptics
This group are the hardcore Euro-sceptics. They probably share many of the concerns of the ‘pragmatic’ and ‘Big world’ sceptics but their objection to the EU is deeper. They believe in the nation state and that politicians are most accountable when they are directly accountable to national electorates.
This extract from a speech by Iain Duncan Smith gets to the heart of this group’s objections to the EU:
“Democracy is not just an abstraction or a system for counting votes. Democracy only thrives when it is embodied in a living culture and society. Where voters can change the way they are governed. The sense of loyalty and identification people feel towards their country's democratic institutions is a condition of real democracy and a consequence of it. Real democracies are living political communities formed by human history. Governments elected by members of those communities are expected to represent vital national interests. They are accessible through popular media and accountable through the ballot box. The institutions of the EU can never command the deep loyalty and affection that are the lifeblood of true democracy.”