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SPP 391

Author: Raivo Vetik, Gerli Nimmerfeldt, Marti Taru and Mart Kivimae
Description: This paper discusses public opinion about EU integration in Estonia in comparative perspective. Several studies as well as the accession referenda of 2003 have shown that Estonia is the most Eurosceptic among the Central and East European (CEE) new member states. The paper aims to uncover reasons behind Estonians' Euroscepticism by first constructing a hypothetical theoretical model for explanation of variation in attitudes toward accession to the EU and then testing it empirically using data for six CEE countries. The results of empirical analyses do not support theories based on previous accessions and EU integration, which claim that the most important factors determining attitudes toward the EU integration are related to internal politics and socio-economic factors. We have found that identity is the key factor in explaining Euroscepticism in CEE countries. We introduce the concept of 'discursive identity' and argue that the way of constructing "us-them" relationships within the expanded EU will have a major impact on the prospects of its further integration.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland