It’s that time of year again, when the European Commission releases its draft budget for the following year, to howls of anguish and disgust from all sides.  I’ve already talked some weeks ago about how the EU budget isn’t like national budgets and shouldn’t be compared to them on a like-by-like bias, but today I want to address a slightly different issue.

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I’m of a generation whose father would never tell them how to spell a word but directed them to a dictionary. I am also of a generation that grew up watching war films on a Sunday afternoon – which took me to Colditz a few years ago. There I stood dumbfounded by the ingenuity of men (because they were all men) who could make maps by using jelly, who could make a functioning sewing machine from scraps of wood they picked up, who could build an aeroplane, for heaven’s sake, from whatever came to hand.

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One of the more notable aspects of the French Presidential elections – which have their first round of voting this weekend – has been the extent to which all the candidates have been willing to bash the EU and European integration more generally.  As the very helpful manifesto comparison tool from Le Monde shows all too clearly, euroscepticism has been rife.

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PSA 2012 is coming to an end and I’ve had some really interesting and useful discussions with colleagues on a number of subjects.  One topic that came up was an old one, namely the continuing basic problems in researching euroscepticism.  From the very word itself, through definitional and classificational inadequacies to a lack of systematic descriptive work, pretty much every aspect of the subject is ripe for appraisal and reappraisal.  Even the most used framework – Taggart & Szczerbiak’s hard-soft model – is, by its authors’ own admission, fraught with problems, the very inclusiveness that has made it so popular for others obscuring many other aspects of interest.

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It’s the first day of the Political Studies Association conference in Belfast.  I’ve been presenting on my recent work on eurosceptic discourse, but here I’d like to focus on some of the other themes that have been emerging.

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