Many factors influenced the outcome of the first Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty, most of them were very well described and put in journalistic pseudo-causal reflections. One logic has however been systematically neglected both by media and scholars: the existence of numerous hordes of mistakenly defined eurosceptics.
Since the first “NO” in the Danish referendum on the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the euroscepticism has become a recurrent issue in European politics, sometimes present in formerly eurooptimist or highly “eurotolerant” countries such as Ireland. Nonetheless, with the long-term exception of the UK and recent ones of Hungary and Latvia, the Euroscepticism is still rather a minor issue. According to the recent Eurobarometer survey, despite the crisis and the growing problems of the Eurozone, only a significant minority (15% in autumn 2009) seems to be eurosceptical.
This article argues that the main problem of euroscepticism is not the core part of eurosceptics but the false understanding that EU officials have of euroscepticism. It may lead to distortions in people’s perception of the European construction due mostly to the perceived illegitimacy and actual lack of democratic accountability. Ultimately, it may lead to much more catastrophic outcomes for the EU than the Irish NO to the Lisbon Treaty.