Understanding the formation and actions of Eurosceptic groups in the European Parliament: pragmatism, principles and publicity
journal contributionposted on 21.10.2013, 11:14 by Richard C. Whitaker, Philip Lynch
This article assesses why Eurosceptic national parties form groups in the European Parliament (EP) and examines in what ways two of these groups – the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) – operate in the EP. It draws on interviews with politicians and group officials, roll-call votes and expert judgement data. We look at the group formation process with a focus on the British Conservatives and UK Independence Party (UKIP) and find that the ECR was created with a mixture of policy-seeking and party management aims. UKIP’s interest in the EFD is largely on the basis of distinctive practical advantages, such as resources for political campaigns. We provide evidence that hard Eurosceptic and regionalist niche parties in the EP struggle to agree with each other in roll-call votes on a range of subjects. Finally, we show that the hard and soft Eurosceptic parties studied here go about policy-seeking in different ways in the EP in line with their differing principles about the integration process.