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Local Community, Power and European Integration

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Edited By Zdzisław Mach

This collection of articles is the result of the research project «The Polish local society in the process of European integration – a decade of experience», financed by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN). The aim was to investigate the process of integration in the EU of six selected local Polish communities. The same six communities had been studied ten years before, when Poland was preparing for the EU accession. The research was based on qualitative methodology. The results show that the knowledge of the EU in local Poland remains at a very low level. The exception is competence in the field of EU structural funds. These funds are the main factor which determines the positive attitude of Poles towards the EU and the Polish membership in it. At the same time the process of the construction of a European identity in terms of values remains very problematic.

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Who belongs to Europe? Perceptions of the future EU enlargement in the Polish society (Magdalena Góra)

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Magdalena Góra

Institute of European Studies, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Who belongs to Europe? Perceptions of the future EU enlargement in the Polish society1

Abstract: EU enlargement was heralded as the most successful EU policy in external relations. However, after the “Big Bang” enlargement that brought 13 new member states to the EU between 2004–2013, the prospects for further enlargement are dim. Both elites and citizens are contesting the concept of further widening of the EU. Various arguments are being used in the debates on enlargement today. The elite mostly use political, economic and security arguments arguing about the EU enlargement, however the arguments stressing culture, religion and identity are also very salient in public debates. Citizens perceive the latter as very important for whom they regard as eligible candidates for the EU. This is especially visible in the case of the Turkish candidacy. The main aim of this chapter is to detect how ordinary citizens perceive further EU enlargement and to what extent their opinions on the further expansion of the EU overlap with the elite’s discourse. The chapter is based on the analysis of approximately 200 interviews with Poles conducted in six local communities between 2013 and 2014.

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