Since the collapse of its communist regime in 1989-1990, Poland aimed at joining the European Economic Community/European Union (EU). In 1991, the Association Agreement was signed by the country and the international organization. Poland officially applied for membership in June 1994. The negotiations for accessions began in March 1998. Poles accepted that their country integrated the EU by referendum in June 2003. Finally, Poland became a full member of the continental institutions on the 1st May 2004. With its forty millions of inhabitants, Poland was the biggest of the ten countries which joined the Union in its latest enlargement. After the collapse of communism, an overwhelming majority of Poles agreed with the idea of joining the EU. However, as in every applicant countries, the level of popular support for EU membership decreased when the negotiations started, since the concessions and harmful reforms were then discussed by officials and criticized by citizens. Nowhere had the decline of public support been more dramatic than in Poland.
[...] Linked to a strong national identity, the sovereignty-based dimension of Polish euroscepticism is important In the late 1990s, the concern over the loss of sovereignty due to the future EU membership was more important in Poland than in the other applicant countries. This is not surprising since national pride is very developed in this country of the Polish respondents to a 2002 Eurobarometer declared that they were at least “quiet proud” of their nationality. This statistic is much more important than those of the other candidate countries. [...]
[...] First of all, the rejection of capitalist and democratic values is the only explanation I found in the literature that accounts for the higher level of Polish euroscepticism within the female population than within the male one. Indeed, in nearly every survey, women are more likely to oppose EU membership than men (cf Annex 3). Moreover, the correlation between the level of income and the rejection of capitalist and democratic values is important: the less you earn, the less you support democratic and capitalist values. [...]
[...] However, according to the spring 2005 Eurobarometer, Poland is one of the countries within the Union whose population rejects the less the European part of its identity of the respondents estimate they have at least partly a European component in their identity. Nevertheless of the Polish respondents declared that they had no European identity at all. This figure remains low in comparison with the situation in the other countries, especially in the old member states. Table European versus national identity in the Europe (Spring 2005) Source: Eurobarometer According to Clare McManus-Czubinska and her colleagues, in Poland, the more you refuse the European part of your identity, the more you reject the idea of European integration. [...]
[...] As a consequence, our study of Polish euroscepticism will be divided in three parts. First, the utilitarian dimension of the phenomenon will be analyzed. It is a very important aspect of Polish euroscepticism since socio-economic indicators and costs and benefits calculation are very relevant to study it. Second, we will analyse the identity-based dimension of Polish euroscepticism. Finally, the ideological component of the phenomenon will be studied in the third part. II.1. The relevance of the utilitarian approach to study Polish euroscepticism The utilitarian approach, or rational-choice theory, of euroscepticism supposes that individuals decide of their position towards the EU according to a calculation of the costs and benefits linked with the membership of their country to the EU. [...]
[...] More generally, the development of anti-EU stances and of a will for tough negotiations with the Union backed the rise of hard and soft euroscepticism during the first two years of discussion between Poland and the continental organization. The support for EU membership eventually stabilized around 55% of the population from 1999, while the rejection of it reached at the same time the more or less stable level of 25%. As a consequence, we can consider than at least a quarter of the Polish population is eurosceptic at different degrees. [...]
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