Summary of CERiM Informal Event on Awkward Membership in the EU

In recent years, some Member States of the EU have turned in 'awkward' members who increasingly context the EU's rules and authority, or even their belonging to the block itself. The United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU, but also the Polish and the Hungarian cases are illustrative of these tendencies. More generally, Euroscepticism is on the rise in numerous Member States.

How can and should the EU react in this context? How have other Member States behaved?

To address these questions, we invited a panel, chaired by Monica Claes, of four speakers to discuss developments in Hungary, Poland, and the UK. Each speaker gave a short presentation before opening up the floor to the audience. Ferenc Laczo (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) talked about current developments in Hungary since the 2010 elections and the growing unpopular sentiments against the. Michal Natorski (UNU-MERIT) followed with a case study analysis of Poland and addressed the ongoing controversy about the domestic reform of the judiciary system. Matteo Bonelli (Law Faculty) offered some insight on the tension between EU law and constitutional law and how EU member states sometimes struggle to reconcile the two and the role the Commission plays in enforcing the rule of law. Lastly, Simon Duke (EIPA) gave a nuanced perspective on how the current and common narrative of the UK being the awkward partner does not represent the full picture.

The lively discussion raised a numbers of questions and issues such the factors and conditions that foster increasing Europscepticism and what can be done to combat them, the extent to which the Commission can intervene in domestic issues that seem to go counter to EU rule of law, and evaluating the understanding of 'awkward membership' as not only referring to the UK but also current member states that have had a history of going against EU principles.

After the session, the speakers were invited to write a short blog on their thoughts and they will be posted as a short series of related blogs. You can find them here in the blog section of our website.


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