Is the European Union imperialist?

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6 Scopus citations


A frequent argument of Eurosceptics is that the EU acts as an imperialist power towards its own member states. This argument has recently gained traction both in Hungary, where Prime Minister Orban complains of the EU’s moral and political imperialism, and also in the UK, where arguments that the EU intends to reduce post-Brexit UK to a ‘vassal state’ have motivated Eurosceptics to support a no-deal withdrawal. There remains an important paradox in the charge of European imperialism, however, because the EU is widely thought to lack much international power, at least in comparison to China and the United States. This essay explores the paradox of a political formation that is both vulnerable to the charge of being an imperialist, while no less vulnerable to being itself the victim of imperialism (or ‘vassalisation’).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1424-1440
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
StatePublished - 2020


  • Brexit
  • European integration
  • Hungary
  • empire
  • imperialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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