The position adopted by left parties towards the European Union continues to raise important questions for both those parties and for the EU itself. What are left parties seeking to achieve in their support, rejection or proposed reforms of the European Union? What is it about the European Union that makes it so amenable, or hostile (depending on your viewpoint), to a left agenda? How, if at all, can the left parties relate to the European Union without receding to nationalism in their opposition, or to naiveté in their support and proposed reforms? And these are questions that have been repeatedly asked throughout much of the history of European integration. Indeed, European integration was for a long time considered by many socialist parties – including more moderate social democratic parties – to be problematic due to its status as a “capitalist club.” At some point between the 1970s and 1990s, however, socialist or social democratic parties came to almost universally accept that the European integration was a progressive project, or at least had the potential to become one. Today, the same could be said for radical left parties as well, with only a handful retaining a position of outright hostility to the European Union. Almost all European left parties now seem to accept that membership in the EU is something to be embraced or accepted, and certainly not something to be overcome.
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