chapter  2
18 Pages

A challenged project – the ‘Europe of elites’ in crisis

ByHeinrich Best, Lars Vogel

Previous research has demonstrated that national elites’ attitudes towards Europe and the European Union (EU) are structured into three main dimensions – emotive (feelings about the EU), cognitive (how the EU is perceived/evaluated) and conative (how the EU should be/behave). These three dimensions constitute the basis of the concept of ‘Europeanness’. The chapter analyses whether the ‘Europeanness’ of national political elites has changed during the crisis period, and how these changes (if any) relates to the parallel evolution of citizens’ attitudes towards the EU. The results indicate that, in general terms, the three dimensions in elites’ attitudes have experienced diverging dynamics during the crisis. While feelings of attachment to the EU have been reinforced, levels of support towards the European integration process remain quite stable, and the strength of the preferences to expand supranational governance to traditional areas of state sovereignty (such as foreign policy) has declined. When the influence of national publics is considered, the analysis evidences that though during the crisis national representatives and citizens have moved away from each other in their levels of attachment to the EU, political elites’ preferences for transferring sovereignty have been somehow constrained, in response to the general public’s preferences.