The MAXCAP Working Paper No. 13 “Comparing Discourses about Past and Future EU Enlargements: Core Arguments and Cleavages” by Antoaneta Dimitrova, Elitsa Kortenska and Bernard Steunenberg has been published. You can download the Working Paper here.
The paper compares discourses about EU enlargement among citizens in six different European countries. The authors discover that there are bridging discourses and connecting arguments among the citizens of the old (Netherlands and Germany), new (Poland and Bulgaria) and candidate states (FYROM, Serbia). They make a cross country comparison between the key assumptions, arguments, emotional responses, perceptions and expectations about the last EU enlargement and potential future enlargements. The authors point out that country discourses can be grouped along seven lines of arguments and responses, depicting the EU alternatively as a source of better governance, in terms of expected benefits or losses, and a community of ideals, among others. There are common perceptions about EU enlargement which can serve to bridge differences between member states: old and new member states share discourses that see enlargement as a rule-based process, or in terms of perceived utility. There are also cleavages between different clusters of arguments which indicate lines of argument which do not go together: Enlargement as a rule-based process versus enlargement as enhancing the EU’s global role. The analysis of the clustered discourses suggests that there are possible lines of argumentation and communication that can be used to advance enlargement and frame future enlargement policies as well as discourses of skepticism and rejection that resonate with citizens in a number of countries and are not conducive to future enlargement.
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