The European Union at a crossroads: Brexit, euroscepticism and the rise of opposition

The European Union is facing one of the rockiest periods in its existence. Not often in its history has it looked so economically fragile, so unsecure about how to protect its borders, so divided over how to tackle the crisis of legitimacy facing its institutions, and so under assault of eurosceptic parties. The unprecedented levels of integration in recent decades has led to increased public contestation, yet at the same the EU is more reliant on public support for its continued legitimacy than ever before. Eurosceptic parties are predicted to increase their vote share in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections. Brexit has provided glimpse of what can happen when eurosceptic sentiment hardens. The European project thus seems at a cross-roads. How did we end up here, and how could the EU move forward? In this talk, Catherine de Vries will address these questions by exploring the contours of public- and party-based Euroscepticism, and the lessons from Brexit.

Catherine E. De Vries is Westendijk Chair and Professor of Political Behaviour in Europe at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where she serves as Director of the VU Interdisciplinary Center for European Studies. She is also an affiliated Professor of Political Science at the University of Essex. Previously, she was a professor of European Politics at the University of Oxford. She is a Member of the Board of Trustees at the Hertie School.


Christine Reh is Dean of Graduate Programmes and Professor of European Politics at the Hertie School. Her work focuses on the European Union’s institutions, politics and legitimacy, with a particular interest in decision-making processes, informal governance and politicisation. Her current research explores the impact of national (electoral) politics on supranational actors and law-making.