When the Copenhagen Declaration of European Identity was adopted in 1973, the topic of a ‘European identity’ reached public debate for the very first time. The core principle in the Proclamation was the shared cultural and economic protectionism of the member states (Wierner, 2019). Consequently, the similarities served as the underpinnings of the European Identity. As a result, culture has been seen as a distinguishing idea of European identity since the Declaration was written (Miller & Day, 2012). The concern about European identity appears to be a center of agreement among member states. Moreover, it has been a focal point of considerable cultural, historical, and economic oneness in the European Union.
However, the EU is not required to spread populism across Europe. Moreover, the group exacerbates the themes they propagate, such as identity anxiety and the worry of both a “closed” and “open” society, which are easily obvious in various nations. Also, because politics is related to nature, it despises voids. Populism and extremism thus cohabit in the dialogic vacuum. To preserve their cultural and historical identities, the European integration Member States a Union of States like the EU requires cohesion and shared identity.
Therefore, the term European Identity can be defined as establishing a distinctiveness based on common historical connections and concepts without erasing national identities as European countries. The logic behind the formation of the European Identity can be the following. The European Identity has been produced and abstractly molded under the European intellectuals in a manner evocative of the picture of Europe itself (Miller & Day, 2012). As a result of the binary placement of the ‘others’ (as non-Europeans) and ‘the self ‘ (as Europeans), the European Identity has developed, although based on constantly shifting notions. Significant events occurred in international and European settings, such as the end of the Cold War, the integration of East and West Germanys, and the September 11th terrorist attacks. Therefore, such bipolar positioning was re-evaluated, and innovative connotations were assigned to concepts of European Identity.
Additionally, a pragmatist version of the European Identity has been advocated by European elites for many years. Even though they have designated it as a problem-solving tool, they have included the preservation of European Identity as one of their main concerns, particularly during times of crisis. Further, this is shown by the notion of constructing a European Identity that arose amid a period of severe existential crisis that afflicted the integration throughout the 1970s (Tekiner, 2020). Consequently, even though it is usually regarded positively, the European Identity came into the limelight when there was nothing like the identity that the European Union envisioned.
Furthermore, as far as European integration is concerned, European decision-makers have always placed a high value on their primary goals for developing the European Identity. Although Europe’s decision-makers sometimes referred to other aims in terms of the European Identity, the EU’s strength and long-term viability were always prioritized (Royuela, 2020). The obvious connection between integration and the European Identity provided insight into the incentives that underpin the latter’s development.
In this regard, European Identity is considered an element of the success of European Integration; this can be emphasized by its capacity to assess the level of unity so far achieved among them. The element attempts further integration in several sectors but with variable levels of effectiveness. Moreover, EU leaders have announced several new measures to enhance security and military collaboration, notably the establishment of a new European Defense Fund to fund collaborative defense research and development.
Cultural identification and transnational citizenship are two important aspects of European Identity. Transnational citizenship aims to overcome the problem of constructing citizenship. According to Capello (2018), the idea is broad enough to include the many ways national people are impacted by universal issues such as climate change that need collective addressing. The EU has only granted a basic form of citizenship based on legal status. The existence of a European demo, or even its feasibility, is debated and contested. Pfister (2012) insinuates that there is no such thing as EU citizenship since individual EU nations continue to maintain their right to grant and withdraw citizenship as a national prerogative. Behind this fiercely protected national right are the fading myths of national land, culture, and ethnology. Citizenship in Europe is acquired either by birth or by naturalization
Moreover, great compassion, routines for collaboration, and the capacity and drive to comprehend their counterparts are necessary to succeed in such transnational endeavors. Nevertheless, what is questionable is if such a procedure results in the development of international citizenship, endowing the people involved with institutionally secure and enforceable rights and obligations. In other words, rights are not only ethically justified but also effectively exercised. According to Article 20 of the EU Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, a citizen of the EU is a person who bears the nationality of an EU member state. EU membership is thus a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, national citizenship. European citizenship rights include appealing to EU representatives, initiating new legislative ideas, and participating in elections for different European institutions, both actively and passively (DeBardeleben & Hurrelmann, 2011). Furthermore, despite their political convergence, Europe’s nations continue to serve as a barrier to broad cultural uniformity. Diversity and distinction continue to be maintained in each country via the publishing industry.
However, the European Identity accentuates cultural identification. Nation-states’ defense of national cultural identities has remained a scholarly priority. The EU has functioned as a vital laboratory for exploring media and cultural identity. The EU is the result of a decade-long effort that began after WWII. Formerly adversarial regimes worked to create a political and economic framework. By the end of the century, 15 European states had formed a worldwide economic union with a growing waiting list. This new “European” cultural identity is linked to a transnational political public spotlight and universal citizenship.
The European identity is important for European integration in that. The EU is composed of nation-states committed to preserving their unique national cultures. The EU’s integration process has sparked a reassertion of regional identities, undermining nation-state hegemony. In some cases, such as the Basque Country and Catalonia in Spain and Wales, and Scotland in the United Kingdom, such regions are also ‘nations without states.’ Localism is inextricably linked to safeguarding cultural and national identity in that context. Indigenous mainstream presses have been lauded for their contribution to preserving distinct cultural identities within the larger state and enhancing the economic integration of member states, for example.
Free Trade Area
The European Union has one of the world’s most outward-looking economies, with over 500 million people. It is also the world’s biggest single market region in terms of population. One of the basic foundations of the EU was the freedom of commerce among its members, and the EU is dedicated to expanding free trade across the globe. The EU is in charge of the trade policies of its member nations and is in charge of negotiating trade agreements on their behalf.
Creating the European Identity has had numerous challenges; however, its emergence and growth within the confines of European unity are due to the shifting trajectory of integration. The European Identity developed based on basic motives: a manufactured nature, a development simultaneous to integration, and a realistic view by European elites (Risse, 2018). These objectives include developing an international stance for the EU, addressing the long-standing democratic deficit issue, battling the Eurosceptic and Eurosclerosis tides, and managing the cultural effect of the Eastern expansion.
Capello, R. (2018). Cohesion policies and the creation of European identity: The role of territorial identity. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 56(3), 489-503.
DeBardeleben, J., & Hurrelmann, A. (2011). Transnational Europe: Promise, paradox, limits: Palgrave.
Miller, R. L., & Day, G. (2012). The Evolution of European identities: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pfister, T. (2012). Activation of citizenship in Europe. Manchester University. Press.
Risse, T. (2018). 11. A European Identity? Europeanization and the Evolution of Nation-State Identities. In M.G Cowles & C. James. In Transforming Europe (2nd ed., pp. 198-216). Cornell University Press.
Royuela, V. (2020). Construction of a composite index of European identity. Social Indicators Research, 148(3), 831-861.
Tekiner, U. (2020). The ‘European (Union) identity’: An overview. E-International Relations.
Wiener, A. (2019). European integration theory. Oxford University Press.