Riedel, Rafał (2024): Poland in the System of European (Differentiated) Integration. Gamprin-Bendern (Working Papers Liechtenstein Institute, 83).


This paper explores the attitudes towards the European integration in the largest so called new member state – Poland. Identifying the specificities of societal support and opposition towards “ever closer” uniting Europe, this paper examines what value system stands behind these attitudes. The investigated values and norms are nested in the long-standing system of political cleavages, as recognized in the classical political science literature. Additionally, the demand and supply side of politics is discussed and interpreted in the light of newly emerging cleavage concepts which are of critical salience for the European integration process. Following the typology of TAN (Traditional, Authoritarian, Nationalist) and GAL (Green, Alternative, Liberal) value divides across societies, this analysis takes a transnational cleavage perspective to identify postfunctionalist drivers – that is the Polish political parties and their respective (changing) voter bases.

On the supply side, the author examines the political parties’ positioning towards the European integration process and its constitutive elements. Unpacking the black box of support and opposition towards European integration, as reflected in the political parties’ manifestoes and daily appearances, allows for mapping how their positions express the newly emerging cleavages (in the making). Bringing together the demand and the supply side of politics provides a clearer picture of the domestic politics gravitating around the European integration project and its specific components. The provided picture is dynamic, for the author observes the evolution of the demand and the supply side since 2004, this is the first year, after the big bang round of EU enlargement. From this moment on the milestones of the analysis overlap with the subsequent crises – from the Constitutional Treaty rejection crisis (2005+), through the economic crisis (2008+), the Ukraine crisis (2014), the migration/refugee crisis (2014/2015+), up to the Brexit referendum (2016+) as well as all the spillovers and externalities that the multi-layered crises have brought about.

Exploring the evolution of normative foundations of the demand and supply at the inner and outer core of the system of differentiated integration contributes to the better understanding of the “tectonic plates” on which the system of European differentiated integration is built. The post-functionalist perspective underlines the salience of the domestic politics in explaining the European integration processes. In line with this paradigm, the author aims at answering the question about the relationship between the newly emerging cleavages and the attitudes towards advancing the European integration project.

Keywords: European differentiated integration, Poland, cleavages

This paper is published within the framework of the initiative “Exploring Liechtenstein’s and Poland’s Perspectives on European Integration”, supported by the Bilateral Fund of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014–2021 and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014–2021.