Euroscepticism, also spelled as Euroskepticism or EU-scepticism,[1][2][3] is a political position involving criticism of the European Union (EU) and European integration. It ranges from those who oppose some EU institutions and policies, and seek reform (Eurorealism, Eurocritical, or soft Euroscepticism), to those who oppose EU membership and see the EU as unreformable (anti-European Unionism, anti-EUism, or hard Euroscepticism).[4][5][6] The opposite of Euroscepticism is known as pro-Europeanism, or European Unionism.

Public opinion on the EU (2022)

The main drivers of Euroscepticism have been beliefs that integration undermines national sovereignty and the nation state,[7][8] that the EU is elitist and lacks democratic legitimacy and transparency,[7][8] that it is too bureaucratic and wasteful,[7][9][10] that it encourages high levels of immigration,[7] or perceptions that it is a neoliberal organisation serving the big business elite at the expense of the working class,[11] being responsible for austerity[7] and driving privatization.[12]

Euroscepticism is found in groups across the political spectrum, both left-wing and right-wing, and is often found in populist parties.[7] Although they criticise the EU for many of the same reasons, Eurosceptic left-wing populists focus more on economic issues, such as the European debt crisis and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,[12][13][14][15] while Eurosceptic right-wing populists focus more on nationalism and immigration, such as the European migrant crisis.[16] The rise in radical-right parties since the 2000s is strongly linked to a rise in Euroscepticism.[17]

Eurobarometer surveys of EU citizens show that trust in the EU and its institutions declined strongly from 2007 to 2015.[18] In that period, it was consistently below 50%.[19] A 2009 survey showed that support for EU membership was lowest in the United Kingdom (UK), Latvia, and Hungary.[20] By 2016, the countries viewing the EU most unfavourably were the UK, Greece, France, and Spain.[21] The 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum resulted in a 51.9% vote in favour of leaving the EU (Brexit), a decision that came into effect on 31 January 2020.

Since 2015, trust in the EU has risen in most EU countries as a result of falling unemployment rates and the end of the migrant crisis.[22] A post-2019 election Eurobarometer survey showed that 68% of citizens support the EU, the highest level since 1983; however, sentiment that things are not going in the right direction in the EU had increased to 50%.[23] Trust in the EU increased significantly from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to July 2020, however by March 2021 it had declined back down to previous levels.[24][25]

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