Resilience of pro-European consensus among political elites in crisis
The central research question of the chapter is whether the crisis has led to ‘loosening’ of a pro-European consensus and a corresponding rise of Euro-scepticism in ‘old’ and the ‘new’ European Union (EU) member states, the latter referring to the former communist countries from East-Central Europe. The chapter deals with the attitudes towards the EU focusing on the possible convergence between ‘old’ and ‘new’ EU member countries. Attitudes of national political elites are analysed on EU-related issues in both groups of countries, as well as their development during the crisis period, in order to determine the level of variations across countries due to different individual political orientations or different national contexts. The results do not indicate any significant loosening of the pro-European consensus within the national political elites – at least not as an overall trend. However, the analysis confirms that the old-new divide remains relevant. While elites from new EU member states are not less trustful in institutional terms (i.e. vis-à-vis institutions of the Union) than their counterparts from old EU member states, they are less attached to Europe, and their support for further unification is weaker.