A Tale of Two Europes: How Conflating the European Court of Human Rights with the European Union Exacerbates Euroscepticism

Zoe Jay (2022). In: The British Journal of Politics and International Relations. 24(4). 563–581


The European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice, with their similar sounding names and similar roles, are frequently confused or conflated by politicians and the media in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Speaking about the two courts as if they are the same, or confusing which court is responsible for which issue, matters because it contributes to ongoing Euroscepticism by exacerbating existing concerns about each court and providing additional opportunities to raise them in public. But while scholars of Euroscepticism often acknowledge that this conflation occurs, they rarely clarify the specific forms it takes or the impacts it has on British perceptions of the legitimacy of European institutions. This study analysed headlines and articles from eight major UK newspapers between 2010-2020 to identify how often conflation occurs and what forms it takes. It identifies three main forms: muddled conflation, where the two courts are accidentally confused or misnamed; ambiguous conflation, where it isn’t clear which institution is being discussed; and deliberate conflation, where the separate institutions are purposely linked to create the impression of a larger problem.

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