From the 2005 constitution's 'permissive consensus' To TTIP's 'empowering dissensus': The EU as a playing field for Spanish civil society

Luis Bouza*, Alvaro Oleart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) saw the development of a transnational campaign that gained momentum as the negotiations reached a critical status, including in Spain. The Spanish anti-TTIP campaign is interesting in that it has gained some salience among media, civil society, trade unions and some political parties in a country where trade and EU affairs are rarely controversial. In order to explain the transformation of the attitudes of Spanish civil society vis-à-vis the EU in the case of TTIP, we formulated descriptive and explanatory research questions, respectively: how is the mobilisation against TTIP different from the traditional involvement of Spanish civil society actors in EU issues? Why have actors which did not work together in previous campaigns cooperated in the case of TTIP? We analyse the Spanish anti-TTIP campaign, and we argue that the change of positions of Spanish civil society actors in relation to the EU in the case of TTIP can be explained on the basis of a change in the field, a notion that is suggestive because of the degree of continuity in the identity of the entrepreneurs of the anti-TTIP campaign in relation to past EU-critical mobilisations. Rather than an increased political cost of EU decision-making at national level, we argue that the introduction of EU-critical ideas can lead to an 'empowering dissensus' where the ability to mobilise citizens on EU issues acquires a renewed importance. We tackle our puzzle through a combination of methods, using semi-structured interviews and network analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-104
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Civil society
  • Democratic legitimacy
  • Europeanization
  • Network analysis
  • Stop TTIP


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