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The Sovereignist Challenge to the European Union: Features and Ambiguities

The presentation discussed nationalism in the post-Brexit period (2016-2020). Because of the negative consequences of Brexit on British politics and economics, nationalism has had to face the challenge to adapt to European integration and interdependence. This adaptation (which had clear opportunistic traits) is here conceptualized as ‘sovereignism’. The presentation identified commonalities and differences in the sovereignist narrative. All sovereignists criticized the supranational character (institutional sovereignism) and the administratively centralized policy system (policy sovereignism) which has developed within the EU. However, sovereignists divided on the rationale of their criticism, based more on an economic discourse (economic sovereignism) in western Europe and more on a cultural discourse (cultural sovereignism) in eastern Europe. The divisions within sovereignists have emerged also during the pandemic crisis and the Russian aggression of Ukraine. The ambiguities of sovereignism do not help to create an alliance between sovereignists.

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