Opposition in the EU and opposition to the EU: Soft and hard Euroscepticism in Italy in the time of austerity

Research Paper by Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Caterina Froio



In the context of the approaching European Parliament’s elections, this report investigates the extent to which the economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures have contributed to the emergence of a Eurosceptic discourse within a traditionally pro-European polity like Italy. Developing upon previous literature on political opposition and the EU, the main argument is that whilst the crisis has contributed to a substantive Europeanization of the Italian debate, it did so mainly in terms of logics of emergency and technocracy. As a result, very little space was left for the organization of political opposition in the EU, whereas a growing tendency emerged towards hard Euroscepticism and opposition to the EU among parliamentary and extra-parliamentary parties and street-based movements. By looking at the actors leading political contestation of the EU, and by identifying the type of arguments that define contemporary opposition to the EU, we develop an extensive assessment of contemporary forms of Euroscepticism in Italy.