Although the concept of collective identity is a post-colonial phenomenon, a few nations would describe themselves under a collective identity before the modern times of the 19th Century. In fact, Europe is historically unique in terms that it has been the people living in the continent of Europe who have persistently described themselves as Europeans since the 17th Century (Pagden, 2002). Indeed, European Union emerged as the most important attempt for creating a supranational entity in the Continent and the best example of a Pan-European common identity as even the words Europe and the European Union are being used as synonyms by millions of people every day. Nevertheless, an uncertainty of a common identity has always been the case for Europeans throughout history and the physical as well as social borders of Europe has never been distinctly known for centuries which are full of wars, tensions, competition and blood.
Today, the same problem continues to exist and many believe that it is the major factor blocking the efforts for achieving a fully integrated Europe, as the definition and frontiers of a common European identity is still unknown. Indeed, one of the most important issues of the European integration from a socio-political perspective is the vague concept of a common European identity including prospects of European Union Citizenship. Although a common European identity had been long around for centuries, these are fairly new issues in relevance to the half a century long history of today’s European Union. However, I believe how the common European identity is defined is very important for the future steps of the integration process, as nowadays the EU is undergoing transformation towards a political union with an aim to become a global actor in the international political arena. What shall be the elements of a common European identity, how shall it be formulized if it is to become a successful construct which would define Europe correctly to end the efforts that lasted for such a long time?
I believe a triumphant common European identity must include the concrete and symbolic realities and it must be rooted to the diversity of cultures which had been created by the long history of Europe (D’Appollonia, 2002). Otherwise, if it remains as a form of “thin identity” suggested by Habermas (2006), the problems and uncertainties of European identity as well as the poorly functioning European Union citizenship is most likely to exist in the Union’s foreseeable future. In fact, a common European identity can only be successfully constructed by taking into account all the ambiguities, contradictions and developments in form of a “unity in diversity” principle which can be applied to the reality of Europe rather than building a shallow and artificial construct as it seems to be today. Theoretically, a united Europe in political terms is made possible if a united Europe in cultural terms is established through formulating a collective common identity which may only be conceived as a collection of multiple and complex values created by complicated dynamics of Europe’s long history. Nevertheless, a united Europe in cultural terms shall not mean a homogenous and strictly ordered European society; rather the European identity shall celebrate Europe’s long tradition of diversity.
Another important question is how should European Union citizenship be defined and what should be the frontiers of cultural implications of such a political formulation. Considering the wide cultural diversity and long history that the individual members of the European Union had share in the European continent, a collective identity may prove to be far too complex to construct, so one may argue that a common European identity is still an illusion. Although Europeans have a successfully formed a common economic and increasingly political union, they are still far away from the desired level of cultural unity and a common identity which seems to be an alarming factor for the next stages of the European integration. Nonetheless, European Union citizenship is an area open to developments and it might be used as a critically important tool by the European Union leaders to accumulate a common European identity, only if it is formulized correctly. The critical point on the debate of European Union citizenship is that the dominant Classical Model of Citizenship is based on the structures of nation-state and that is why this model cannot be applied to the European Union, as it is a whole different level of organization. On the other hand, Post-National citizenship is a modern approach to the issue of European identity and it is suitable to Europe in order to reach its goals of unification and deepening through building a stronger common identity in the 21st Century.
This paper is organized in several sections. European identity from a historical perspective is analyzed in the first part; the current status of European identity and the issue of national identities in contrast to the common European identity is discussed in the following part; a new European identity and suggestions for a new formulation is given in the third part; a brief history of European Union efforts and progress on building a common identity is examined in the fourth part; and finally the aspects of European Union Citizenship is discussed in the fifth part of this paper.
After all, this paper argues that a common identity in form of a collective European identity is clearly necessary for the Union at this stage of integration, and it is a crucial element for the future of the European integration project especially as our world is getting smaller as well as more fragmented simultaneously due to the complex dynamics of international relations every day at the age of globalization. European Citizenship is very much connected to the issue of European identity and it is the key to achieving such a strong common European identity when it is formulized as a Post-National phenomenon. The Europeans must derive their power from the diversity of their cultures by building a “thick identity” for Europe rather than a “thin identity” which consists of merely political rights; yet the Europeans shall not overlook the uniqueness of the Continent and the similarities they share in comparison to the rest of the world emphasized by the “Unity in Diversity” principle. Today, it is time for the Europeans to unite under one roof in socio-political terms, complete the long standing task of defining the boundaries of the European civilization by establishing a common and collective European identity in order to carry on the progress of the European integration project in a globalized world. Nonetheless, the question of possibilities of the Europeans to achieve such a high level of cultural as well as political unity remains a question and it is subject to a whole different level of research. However, often seen as a regional product of globalization itself, I believe the European integration project cannot progress any further without achieving a common European identity which is more critical than ever today in order to overcome the challenges of globalization in the 21st Century.
Identity has always been a problematic concept because it is uncertain, fluid and highly flexible. Identity is the way to define one’s “self” and to differentiate from the “others”. If taken literally, identity means equal, identical. Identity is not static but dynamic, and it can be defined in different ways in different circumstances. Identity is construct, which cannot be constructed immediately but only in time. It is not a fixed, constant and pre-given entity; while identity formation is heavily dependent on how one is perceived by the others. Identification implies belonging or membership, in turn which implies the exclusion of non-members (Bretherton & Vogler,1999: 236).In other words, the sole purpose of identity is to separate self from the others in a sense. Moreover, identities are multiple in nature, or even “kaleidoscopic”. A person may have a single identity, but it will be made up of many levels of loyalty and identification (Von Benda-Beckmann & Verkuyten, 1995: 18). Meanwhile, identities change, because they are based on perceptions, which themselves change over time and environment; as it is possible to identify one’s self with more than one thing at a time such as class and gender, or religion and age. Therefore there are various elements of one’s identity and these various elements in an identity may well be contradictory (Von Benda-Beckmann & Verkuyten, 1995: 12).
On the other hand, a “collective identity” means the attitudes, which all members of that group have in common in their thoughts and behavior; which differentiates them from the “other” (Munch, 2001: 137). Collective identities can provide existential meaning for people, thus they are primary means of unity in a society which give additional stability especially during periods of upheaval. Collective identities can generate a degree of continuity between individuals and their social environment, and can confer social recognition and approval (Von Benda-Beckmann & Verkuyten, 1995: 24). Therefore, collective identities are defined mainly by culture from a historical point of view rather than biological genes, ethnicity, nationalism or simple political rights. Finally, It they are used to construct community and feelings of cohesion and holism, a concept to give the impression that all individuals are equal in the imagined community (Strath, 2002: 387). From the perspective of political science; there are two types of political identities: a “civic identity” and a “cultural identity”. The cultural definition of political identity entails a sense of belonging of an individual towards a particular group which can mostly defined by its uniform cultural or ethnic values. On the other hand, the civic definition of political identity involves with the identification of an individual mostly in form of citizenry with a political structure, which includes political institutions, rights, duties and rules (Bruter, 2004: 26). Therefore, a cultural European identity implies a reference to Europe as a continent, a civilization and a cultural entity whereas a civic European identity implies a reference to the political and institutional aspects of European Union identity largely in the form of EU citizenship.
Europe has always been more of a mental construct than a geographical or social entity (Lowenthal, 2000: 314). Europe has no natural frontiers both in geographic and sociological terms. Therefore it had never been easy to acquire a singular definition of European identity because the borders of Europe had always been dynamic, and no one knew where Europe started and Europe ended (Pagden, 2002). A European identity is an abstraction and a fiction without essential proportions (Strath, 2002: 387). The concept of a European identity is an idea expressing artificial notions of unity rather than an identity of equality. In this sense, the concept of European identity is inscribed in a long history of political reflection on the concept of Europe. From the perspective of history, Europe has been united as a singular entity in various settings for a number of times in its past such as the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Napoleonic Empire, and arguably the Nazi Third Reich. Identity was only conceptualized as a macro-level collective phenomenon by the intellectual elites of Europe; on the other hand, for the rural masses of Europe, identity was a local term associated with the micro-level, rarely the nation and never an incident as large as the continent of Europe (Pagden, 2002). In different period of history, a common European identity had been defined on different basis. In the Middle Ages, Christianity was the main defining characteristic of European identity, whereas in modern times, the emergence of the nation state, periods of nationalism and afterwards democracy and secularism has been the common characteristic of the Europeans. Meanwhile, Christianity lost its dominance yet it arguably remained as one of the important components of European identity.
Today, the European Union similar to the continent of Europe can be characterized by overlapping and unclear boundaries. From a geographical perspective, the EU has fuzzy boundaries due to the ongoing enlargement processes since the 1970’s (Risse, 2003: 490). Although the geographical borders of Europe are not objectively defined particularly in the east, a state without a geographical relevance to the European continent cannot become a part of the European Union, even if it shares the EU’s collective values and norms. Moreover what adds to the uncertainty of Europe’s borders is that boundaries of the EU may change according to different policy fields such as the “Schengen” includes the non EU member Norway but at the same time it does not include the EU member state the United Kingdom. Therefore, first of all the lack of solid geographical boundaries weakens efforts of the EU to be seen as a singular entity by its own people (Castano, 2004). On the contrary, diversity shall be the main characteristic of European identity from a cultural point of view. Religious and cultural heritages including Roman law, political democracy, parliamentary institutions, Renaissance humanism, rationalism, romanticism characterize the common identity of the Europeans (Smith, 1992). On the other hand, there are undeniable socioeconomic, cultural, national and ethnic differences among the member states of the European Union. Nevertheless, this reality is reflected in the motto of the Union which is “unity in diversity” from a positive point of view.
A collective political culture is an important feature of the common European identity. The Greeks gave Europe the science and philosophy and the Romans gave it the idea of single continent and unity which created Europe’s strong cultural and political origins. The diverse and multiple cultures of the ancient Europe shared a single identity as they were brought together under a common system of Roman law. The people of Europe also shared a common language, Latin, and after Europe slowly converted to Christianity they acquired a common religion. Christianity has been a crucial part of the European identity and it played a key role to create its internal cohesion and to designate its relationship with the rest of the world. Further references are made to Europe’s identity besides its heritage of classical Graeco-Roman civilization and Christianity; such as the ideas of the Enlightenment, Science, Reason, Progress, Industrialization, Democracy and Individualization as the core elements of this claimed European legacy (Wintle, 1996: 13-16). Hellenism, Romanticism, welfare society and cross-fertilization of diversity can be added to this list (Garcias, 1993: 7-9), while one may argue that Europe’s core values include its commitments to an undivided continent, to individual freedom, and to the universalism of humanity (Havel, 1996).
However, this unity never reached to the point of sharing a common European culture. A single body of citizenry or a common cultural identity could not be reached even in the peak of Europe’s history of unity. When the differences within Europe are emphasized, they are often in the form of “unity in diversity”; religious differences such as Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christianity, and linguistic differences including Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages are obvious; yet they are seen as correlated, Catholicâ€“Romance, Protestantâ€“Germanic, Orthodoxâ€“Slavic, and essentially are underlying the major ethnic cleavages and conflicts in the history of Europe. Anthony Smith is among the scholars who are skeptical of the possibility of a common European identity because they could not find a common culture across the European continent, and even more critically they claim that Europe lacks of a shared set of myths, experience and symbols; these elements which they find crucial to create post-national identity (Smith, 1992: 72-73). Furthermore, Europe lacks of a shared historical and cultural content as which is the largest source of division among Europeans. Other obstacles to a common European identity include linguistic diversity and its tripartite religious division. In fact, a major difference among EU countries is the persistence of linguistic diversity, even though in practical level English has become the dominant language in Europe. Language does not only have an instrumental but also an emotional dimension and people’s sense of nationality is often tied up with their mother tongue (Guibernau, 2001: 192).
On the other side of the debate, scholars such as Michael Wintle are more optimistic on the possibility of creating a European identity. Indeed, the existence of the EU identity in the form of converging education standards, educational exchanges, and the organization of a European civil society is already established in most parts of Europe. Wintle argues that a European identity was previously already created during the high Middle Age (Wintle, 1996: 19-22), and it can be easily established today considering the forces of globalization. For now, the major success of the EU in fostering its identity has been limited with the increasing free movement of people across European borders, which has accelerated since the 1985 and formalized in 1990 Schengen accords parallelly correlated with the rising impact of globalization. Increased interaction among peoples of Europe would also encourage cultural exchanges and this could foster a stronger sense of a shared community. Education and high culture shall play a key role in European Union’s cultural policy, because these two factors have an important effect on the creation of the EU identity. Education is obviously one of the crucial dimensions in any attempt to develop the future identity of the EU or at least more understanding and convergence among Europeans; high culture unites Europeans against the low culture which separates them. After all, the development of the EU identity will be the outcome of a long process in which bottom-up as well as top-down initiatives are likely to be employed (Guibernau, 2001: 183-184).
The idea of Europe as well as the identity of Europeans are constructed over time with processes of contention and bargaining. Gerard Delanty argues that a “European Culture” is not an entity with cohesion and fixed boundaries, but a floppy concept, with no clear borders and with internal opposition and contradictions, discursively shaped in contentious social bargaining processes (Delanty, 1995; 1999). In other words, the images of Europe do not exist as a natural phenomenon but are discursively shaped by internal as well as external forces (Strath, 2002). A basic step in the process of creating a collective identity is to defining itself in relation to the other. Central to one’s identifications are images of others. Likewise any identity, European identity necessarily contains a demarcation from the non-European. This is natural to all distinctions, and they are both inclusive and exclusive. The boundaries of Europe can only be drawn and the identity of Europe can only be realized in the mirror of others. Indeed, Europe does not exist without non-Europe and that non-Europe does not exist without Europe. Many centuries ago, the Europeans defined people living in the north as uncivilized and people living in the south as oriental (Pagden, 2002). Furthermore, the Greeks labeled the non-Greek speaking people as barbarians, even if that word would surely have a different meaning by that time. In nearer times, although the Russians shared many features with a European society including the same religion, it could not reach the formal limits of a Romanized civilization thus perceived as a barbaric empire or the orient, depending on the time. Moreover, European belief of its superiority relied on the common features of European societies such as science and liberal arts. Thus the rest of the world could only be portrayed as actors in relation to Europe, in other words always remained as “the other”.
According to Delanty, Europe has been always invented and reinvented “on the basis of division and strategy for the construction of difference” from the “other” starting from Christian identity against Islam in the Middle-Ages, after that in the colonial politics to the New World, and to the ethnic minorities in the contemporary European Union (Delanty, 1995). Therefore, historical experience suggests that the new European identity may be constructed on the “other” which may be the United States, the East, Islam or the European past itself. Samuel Huntington has argued that religion provides the best common means of historically distinguishing between Europeans and “the other”, especially in terms of the confrontation between the Judeo-Christian tradition and Islam (Huntington, 1996). However, at the same time, the separation between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Western variations of Christianity has, for a long time, been crucial in establishing a division between Western and Eastern Europe; partially reinforced in the Cold War, divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism and separation between North and South (Guibernau, 2001).
Today, the European Union is frequently argued to be a fortress for “the other” and the EU is often referred to as a “Christian Club”, because historically all states on the continent of Europe had Christian societies. The Ottoman Empire was the greatest enemy of European states as well as Christianity in the Middle Ages; which made Islam the primary charactersitic of “the other” for Europeans from the perspective of history. Today, the accession dialogues of Turkey into the European Union raise wide public opposition in Europe while the European Union officials make constant efforts to prove their allegiance to non-religious, non-ethnic but solely liberal and non discriminatory Copenhagen Criteria independent from historical aspects of “the other” which has actually been extensively used to define the European identity. Finally, Europe is unique because it has possessed an identity as a cultural space which gave birth to political unions throughout its history. However, it has never succeeded to constitute a single nation-state or a unified ethnic group. Although the European Union with its single currency and supranational political and legal institutions changed these historical facts to an extent, it is only possible with the means of a common European identity which will carry Europe to the next stage of integration which it always aimed but failed to achieve during its long history. Nevertheless, history has already proved that it will surely be hard to overcome uncertainties of a common European identity at the level of the masses.
Over the past millennium, the advancements of European civilization gave rise to the elites living on the continent of Europe who feel increasingly attached to Europe as a whole and shared dreams of a united continent. However, Europe as a realm sharing a common history as well as a common destiny has been largely abandoned by fixed prejudices on often nationalistic and ethnic grounds. National interests and biases at local, national, and global levels have prevented the masses of European people from viewing themselves collectively (Lowenthal, 2000: 315). However, today, forces of globalization, advancements in communications technologies and media transmission of everyday popular culture now promotes the sense of being European among larger segments of society other than the European elites. Although a truly trans-European society is still in its infancy, many of its essential elements are already in place this time largely due to the forces of globalization. Most European states are increasingly democratic in reality; their economies are for the most part market driven; their popular culture grows more homogeneous as communication technologies expand under the forces of globalization in the 21st Century (Waterman, 1999: 23). Therefore, Europe is at the stage of defining its identity today; however which criteria are being deployed to define Europe, Europeans, Europeanness and their respective boundaries is critically important. A common European identity must be constructed by defining and understanding the historical roots of outstanding features of the European society in relation to the notion of citizenship, which will be discussed in depth in the following parts; developed in the past over the land of Europe. For sure, Europe is being redefined as a result of a complex set of processes, but an important question is what sort of Europe is emerging from them?
There is certainly a structured symmetry in the perception of the European Union as the coincidence of a homogenized socio-political space, a unified regulatory space of an EU super-state, a singular European civil society surpassing existing national and regional differences in culture and identity (Hudson, 2000). In some respects there has been progress towards such an “ideal of European civil society”. For example, the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights have had an important role in defining acceptable standards across Europe. The issue of European identity and the criteria used to denote “Europeans” is clearly a critical one for the political and social integrity for the European Union. “Europe will exist as an unquestionable political community only when European identity permeates people’s lives and daily existence” (Demos 1998). Identity is a key issue which is continuously changing and that’s the reason why it is so hard to define especially in a world of fast changes in the 21st Century’s globalization. The member states of today’s enlarged EU have become multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies with various structural phenomenon ranging from the immigrant community of France to Post-Communist yet ethnic communities of the Central and Eastern European states. As the EU expanded eastwards in the last two rounds of enlargements, the issue of defining a European identity became even more critical for sake of integrity and stability of the Union.
One conception of a singular European identity would see it constructed through a process similar to that involved in the creation of national identities in the 19th and the 20th Centuries. Ironically, while the aim was to create those national identities in the past, the challenge that Europeans face today would be to transcend them for the creation of Europeannes. However, the current trends at local European level are quite different from the interests of Europeanists at the supranational level. There are pressures from nation states and their citizens to resist any further transfer of national sovereignty as well as erosion of national identity (Hudson, 2000). In fact, the success of extreme right wing political parties in important European countries such as Austria and France may be seen as a sign of the reappearance of dangerous nationalist and racist ambitions which the peoples of Europe have most probably experienced more than any other continent in the world history.
Eric Hobsbawm has proclaimed that nationalism is dead (Hobsbawm, 1990). On the contrary, Llobera argues that national identities are certainly not eternal, but the time of their demise has not yet arrived (Llobera, 2003). In fact, national identities are still dominant in Europe. Recent surveys show that, people in Europe prefer maintaining their national identity and sovereignty, but increasing number of people have accepted European identity in addition to their national identities. Therefore, European nationalism is another important component of a common European identity and it has been a major ideological tool for unifying nation states as well as the Europeans as a whole throughout Europe’s history. To start with, the European Union, with its both intergovernmental and supranational characteristics represents a far different type of state-organization than a classical nation state. The main distinguishing characteristics of the EU from the nation-state are the absence of a shared language, a uniform media, common education system and a central state structure (Shore, 2000: 64). Furthermore, the powers of the EU rely on the sharing of sovereignty of its member states. European unification is a progressive method of limiting individual nation states to practice any kind of harmful nationalism and this is makes up an important part of the European identity. At this point, nationalist Euroskeptics may argue that building a common Europe and an identity for it means destroying nations. However, a general feeling of “Europeanness” and loyalty to Europe in a cultural sense, does not need to conflict with national identities (Andreani, 1999).
A successful construct of European identity must include the concrete and symbolic realities created within time. The European states have not always been nationalist through Europe’s long history. The definition of nationalism counts on the idea of nation and territory; while the definition of a European nationalism depends on the historical and ideological evolution of the European nation states and aspirations for a post-national Europe. In fact, the aspirations that underlie in the roots of the foundation of the European Union are parallel to European cosmopolitanism in the 18th and the 19th centuries. From the Enlightenment to the beginning of the ECSC after the Second World War; European nationalism found two separate meanings: one as an antinational Pan-European idea of a new united Europe that limits the sovereignty of the nation states, and the other as a pro-national ideology to create or legitimate new nation states (D’Appollonia, 2002).
Historically, cosmopolitanism reflected intentions for a European unity, and gave rise to anti-national European nationalism. European nationalism was characterized by the will to protect the European interests and its supremacy from non-Europeans as well as protecting Europe from itself by creating a federation. It can be argued that economic development, commercial prosperity, intellectual-supremacy and military power were the factors making Europe homogeneous and created a united European identity beyond national borders to an extent. Some intellectuals as well as economists believe that the nation state is an outdated political and economic entity, and nationalism is merely an expression of old prejudiced and narrow-minded ideas. European nationalism defined itself similar to the nation state through common identity and culture, territory, historical memory building, and economic and political objectives to defend self-interests. The defensive conception of European nationalism on the other hand had always been a driving factor, yet the pro-nationalist ideologies had been the major cause underlying the wars of modern times. As Europe was divided into aggressive nation states, the idea of Europe had increasingly converged. Although the wars were dividing factors themselves, their interpretations by the Europeanists became powerful unifying factors for Europe. The irony of European nationalism is that it depends on the memory of events that divided rather than united the continent (D’Appollonia, 2002).
Although it used the same definitions of nation and Europe with the anti-national European nationalism from time to time, it remained limited to the strict logic of the national framework. Transnational solidarities were necessity to establish European unity under either a supranational or an intergovernmental structure. For some intellectuals, European nationalism was the only way to protect the autonomy of nations and the liberty of the individuals. Conceptualizing of the European Union citizenship and creation of the Committee of the Regions in the EU were seen as efforts of the Pro-national European nationalists. These forms of European nationalism rejected the form of narrow nationalism while it showed ambitions to reinforce the intermediary actions between state and individual, between the individual, the market the centralization of economic and political power and the necessary adaptations to globalization. It defends particular interests for the common good while empowering a broad and liberal citizenship mechanism as a means to control executive powers, outside the limits of the nation state. It is an attempt to bypass the nation state from the regions as pro-national European nationalists argue that nation state is outdated, similar to the anti-national European nationalists; and the construction of Europe could accelerate this process by redefining new territorial boundaries (D’Appollonia, 2002). Moreover, regional identities would favor greater democratic expression by simply more direct participation of citizens.
Finally, these two forms of European nationalism that existed in Europe’s history are not mutually exclusive, thus they may and did coexist within the same time in Europeanist policy. In order to override the present confusion about citizenship and nationalism in Europe, popular sovereignty shall be reorganized on a European scale to balance the declining state sovereignty and maintain the democratic participation to overcome the questions of democratic deficit, within a post-national framework As the traditional form of the nation state is changing today; replacement of simple national politics with cultural programs that aim to form new allegiance independent from the present nation state structure, making the EU more accessible and intelligible, and resolving the present confusion between identity and sovereignty are crucial conditions in order to sustain a successful common European identity. After all, nationality still plays an important role in emotional sense of community, but the changing social surroundings in our day may present limits to it and open a way to new forms of allegiances. The nation state has lost its influence over the process of identity formation, basically because of free social mobilization, information flow and other trends of globalization (Delanty and Rumford, 2005). National identities of European Union member states shall be reconceptualized against primordial identities if a truly genuine and trans-national EU identity is to be achieved. Although, Anderson (1983) and Smith (1995) show how powerful the feeling of national belonging might be in shaping a long history of nation-building; the powerful impact of globalization shall not be overlooked as national identities face a totally different social phenomenon of globalization today.
In conclusion, national identities are still dominant in Europe, but they do not necessarily pose a threat to common European identity if the EU identity is conceptualized and institutionalized correctly. In other words, European identity formation can proceed alongside with national identity’s transformation in 21st Century Europe. The discussions about European identity have been accelerated with the evolution of the EU from primarily an economic organization to a political union especially after the Maastricht Treaty, and the forces of globalization in the 21st Century. It is argued that, European integration process reached its limits and for further integration, there is a need for the construction of a new uniform European identity. Especially with the enlargement process towards the Central and Eastern Europe, answering the questions of “where are the end points of Europe?” and “who is European?” became much more complicated. The Treaty of Rome states that “any European country is eligible for membership to the EC” but it did not specify what “European” means (Llobera, 2001: 179).The notion of Europe has always been a vogue conception with uncertain frontiers. Therefore, a common European identity must be constructed by taking into account from a historical perspective all the ambiguities, contradictions and developments. A united Europe in cultural terms through formulating a common identity may only be conceived as a collection of multiple and complex values created in Europe’s long history; which does not necessarily conflict with national identities.
Identity associated with the nation state is usually regarded as unitary, homogenous and compact while in the case of the European Union these properties cannot be applied to a common European identity in practice. Therefore, Europe needs a new definition of an identity, a supranational rather than nation-state identity which can only be understood and established as a post-national and post-modern entity. Before the European integration project can advance any further; the European Union leaders are aware that the EU needs to construct its identity as Europe lacks solidarity in the form of a shared European identity; which Jurgen Habermas explains as a “cosmopolitan consciousness” (Habermas, 2001a: 112). According to Eurobarometer; a quite stable minority of 10 percent of EU citizens rate their European identity higher than their national identity or claim to see themselves as Europeans only (European Commission, 2005: 94). Nevertheless, 47 percent of Europeans associate the EU with a feeling of pride (2005: 84), more than 60 percent feel some degree of European pride (2005: 99), and 66 percent feel attached to Europe (2005: 103). Many argue that the EU citizens, apparently need a common identity in order to accept common rules and institutions and especially in order to be able to decide in common upon ethically sensitive conflict issues. Habermas agreed on the deficit description of a missing European identity and later admitted the need for a shared material understanding of a European life form as well as a common interpretation of European history (Habermas, 1995; 2001).
The European Union identity can be formulized in form of a cosmopolitan identity. JÃ¼rgen Habermas is the best known scholar supporting a cosmopolitan Europe, who argues that the European Union can be based on a “thin” collective identity built on a set of abstract universalistic principles such as human rights, but evolves and “thickens” from this Kantian cosmopolitan conception into the European constitutional patriotism which is expected to replace the ethnic bonds of European nations within time (Habermas, 2003: 86â€“100). Delanty argues that the ‘thick’ identity is a particularistic identity because of its cultural and social power for the people like national, sub-national or regional identities while “thin” identity is universalistic because of resistance to divisive relations of self and the other (Delanty, 2002).
An important argument is that the European Union identity shall be more than a simple shared democratic constitution and a basic legal citizenship to create a sense of belonging to the Union for the peoples of Europe. European identity which is formulized merely with political rights and duties is considered as a ‘thin’ identity which can be established more easily while it is less likely to produce any shared sense of belonging and purpose for the peoples of Europe. Lacroix argues that the political will to buttress Europe’s political union with a set of common values may not guarantee the unity of the European Union and could undermine the unique normative potential of a political entity supposed to address the problem of distinct national identities (Lacroix, 2009). Furthermore, a merely political thin identity would also likely to be only ‘an elite affair’ (Calhoun, 2003). Because of these limitations, historical and cultural dimensions of constructing European identity is associated with the term ‘thick identity’ and thickness of EU identity is believed to be important for its effectiveness.
However, Europe’s diverse cultures, history of wars, blood and nationalism is not easy to bring together for fostering a common sense of belonging to the continent from a historical approach. Ironically, the new European identity is intentionally articulated around peace, democracy and human rights by seeking to put the Europe of integration in sharp contrast to the Europe of war and blood in its history. In reality, as to European identity, in no way can we say that, at the cultural level there is at present an entity that we can call Europe (Llobera, 2003: 172). Delanty argues that there is no ‘European society’ in terms that a strong collective identity based on cultural values, a shared sense of history or identification with a common territory, a common way of life that can be called distinctively European does not exist. (Delanty, 1998). Furthermore, there is no clearly defined geographical basis to Europe and given that European history has been a history of divisions and that all successive attempts to unite the continent ended in disaster; a cosmopolitan European identity will have to rest on foundations quite different from ones based on historical heritage or on culture, which has lost its integrative powers (Delanty, 2000b). The making of a European civic or political culture is possible by extending legal communication of EU citizenship to the moral domain but this extension, at the same time, leaves the different national legacies of collective identities in Europe untouched as cultural traditions (Priban, 2009: 55). One cultural layer defined by the legal symbolism of European citizenship is thus constituted next to other layers of different European cultures. A large-scale collective identity, such as the European identity, is a field of “multiple, overlapping, and sometimes even conflicting identities” (Calhoun, 2001: 52).
At the heart of the debate, there lies the balance between unity of political values and principles and cultural diversity influencing their interpretations. These are the two poles of a formulation of European identity as a postmodern entity. Cultural and political identity are two different things to start with. Political identity results from the mental elaboration of political and social experience, which in Europe is the experience of past wars and cooperation of the Union for last fifty years (Cerutti, 2003: 28). Political and cultural identity do not coincide conceptually; thus the lack of cultural identity among the Europeans cannot be used as an argument against the possibility of their political identity; nor do they overlap empirically, as shown for example by the circumstance that in 1999 when 52 percent of Europeans supported the integration process, while only 38 percent believed in a European cultural identity (Risse, 2002: 79).
From a positive constructivist perspective, the EU identity shall be modernist in nature which cannot be based on a single cultural value, a friction of European people or a territorial domain; rather it shall consider the poly-national, poly-ethnic and multi-centric characteristics of today’s Europe. Therefore, it is clear that a new European identity will have to be a decentred identity (Derrida, 1992). On the contrary, national identities continue to be strong despite the Union’s endorsement of the principle of divided sovereignty which can be said to limit political sovereignty and constitutional democratic power of the EU member states. Therefore, a common European identity can be imagined and fictionalized only as a civic or political culture of human rights and democratic values from the perspective of nation-state politics. JÃ¼rgen Habermas has proclaimed that “the political culture must serve as the common denominator” in the future Europe, rather than other characteristics (Habermas, 1992: 7-8). Habermas’s constitutional patriotism has an attempt to create sphere for universal constitutional values liberal-democratic principles are thought to be sufficient for fostering loyalty of the people even against their national and cultural ties. Because universal constitutional values such as human rights are much more fundamental than particular identities at national, regional or sub-national levels; they are expected to be compatible as these identities operate at different levels. He argues that EU constitutional patriotism took Europe one step closer towards the achievement of a “thick” EU identity on February 15, 2003. Habermas has made a consistent effort to uncover a history of post-national Europe that acts to unite its individual member states. The search for a common past and common traditions responds to the need to find or invent some elements that could prove useful in the construction of a shared sense of European identity, which should ideally go hand-in-hand with greater EU integration (Guibernau, 2001). To this end Habermas invokes Europe’s rather dark past, citing religious wars, class oppositions, the descent of imperialism, the loss of the colonial empires, the destructive force of nationalism and the Holocaust (Habermas, 2005). To a large extent, Habermas’s main focus in writing this history for post-nationalism is to give a greater historical dimension and a certain “thickness” to Europe’s cosmopolitanism (Chalmers, 2006).
Nevertheless, it is false to assume that the “thin” legal, civil rights-based sense of European identity could eventually support the establishment of the “thick” European demos as the grand subject of European political history and the constituent power, legitimizing the project of European federal statehood (Priban, 2009: 54). Struggling with limited and weak internal commonality, the political identity of Europe may be fortified mainly by potential civic or constitutional patriotism in its “lowest-common-denominator form” that can inspire a “we-Europeans” feeling but cannot replicate the solid collective identity and abstract solidarity typical of the modern nations of Europe (Calhoun, 2001: 45). A particular European identity overarching collective identities of different European nations is fictionalized by supporting itself on the moral universalism of human rights and constitutional democracy (Wilkinson, 2003). Unlike the image of one European people, European identity may be constructed only as a hybrid mixture of common civil ethos and persisting different national loyalties of the peoples of Europe that, due to its irreducible heterogeneity, is impossible to ultimately consolidate and codify by the EU’s legal system (Priban, 2009).
The development of a European identity within the EU will probably be the outcome of a long process in which both bottom-up as well as top-down initiatives will have to be used simultaneously (Llobera, 2001: 184). In addition, however, there was a growing recognition of the significance of non-territorially defined dimensions of individual identities, such as ethnicity, gender and religion, as classes lost significance within Europe. Constructing identity around such dimensions allows the emergence of various communities of interests which further complicates the processes of cultural hybridity in identity formation (Hudson, 2000). Therefore, creating unity in Europe becomes a project of integration based upon not only multiple senses of territorial identification but also the recognition of multiple and complicated identities of self. This approach opens the way of a “heterophilic Europe” of multiple and mobile identities. Identity is at the heart of European integration project and the EU identity should be considered as “unity in diversity”. The EU identity as unity in diversity is a belief in the common and a faith in the difference. Each country has its own national identity but added to that one can choose the EU identity and let the EU identity be a part of a member state’s identity. Finally, the objectives of the EU’s cultural policy have to protect and promote cultural identity at regional, national and European levels and to realize an open and dynamic European cultural space which contributes to the EU identity.
A critical aspect of fostering European identity is its successful institutionalization when theory comes into real life. It is clear that robust and effective common European Union institutions are necessary to support an effective common European identity; otherwise any form of constructed European identity is destined to remain as a social phenomenon. The goal to sharing European values and common principles must take roots in common European institutions at the supranational level; otherwise the self-identification of the Europeans as one cannot be elevated to post-national level and it is more likely to become a social phenomenon which cannot solidify in the political realm. On the one hand, making the supranational European institutions fully legitimate and accountable requires the development of political identity in a shape which is different from both national and cultural identity and is not merely opposite to diversity and change. Its contents can be seen in a specific set of constitutional values and principles, including a model of social relations, an international standing and a peculiar and unprecedented system of governance. Identity-formation in the EU goes through several channels, but has still to generate a European public sphere, though the source of this difficulty does not lie in the lack of a European people or demos (Cerutti, 2003).
If areas such as constitutional policy, social policy, immigration, internal security and defense come under EU-induced reform pressure, integration may become highly controversial. Therefore, it can be assumed that national diversity clashes with European ambitions and that shared values are the necessary common ground for consensus and solidarity. In other words, without shared values, European governance in these ethically sensitive policy fields would be condemned to fail. On the other hand, without a “collective identity” beyond the borders of the national communities as common ground for common future projects, European efforts to institutionalize common political solutions, procedures, and commitments are more likely to fail (Kantner, 2006). Against the common view that a European identity is a functional precondition for legitimate EU governance, there is conceptual weaknesses of the term “collective identity” which is problematic for the process of identity construction. However, some argue that a strong European identity is not a functional precondition for legitimate everyday democratic governance in the EU. Only in extraordinary situations and in order to institutionalize integration in ethically sensitive policy fields is it necessary that EU citizens discursively agree on an ethical self-understanding of their way of life (Kantner, 2006). Moreover, the attempts to create a homogenous cultural identity for Europeans in a sense is fostering Euro-nationalism and the idea of a “Fortress Europe” which excludes the rest of the world as labelling them the “other” is a dangerous path to follow. On the contrary, the idea of “Central Europe” poses an alternative model to the understanding of Europe as a singular set of shared, dominantly Western European values as it values cultural diversity and promotes a tolerance of different values as a value in itself. It would, in that sense, constitute the opposite of the “Fortress Europe” idea, which is the expression of the safeguarding of a singular reading of Europe (Blokker, 2008).
Finally, an important aspect of the debate is the compatibility as well as comparability of European identity with nation state identity. It is often falsely believed that European identity and national identity are comparable categories and European identity can only progress if national identities fade away. In fact, as Habermas has repeatedly emphasized, the attachment to the EU cannot be based on “primordial allegiances”, but rather on constitutional patriotism which includes popular sovereignty and human rights (Habermas, 2003, 2005). It is true that there are historical experiences that fundamentally unite and undeniably divide the European people both politically and culturally. However, people have multiple identities and all people can cross cut national identities. On the other hand, common destiny and a unified culture play a critical role for a collective identity to emerge. Individual identification is situational but collective identification is more intense, persistent and less prone to changes such as religious and ethnic identities. Orchard argues that national identity relies on cultural identity (Orchard, 2002). National identity is defined as a complex and highly abstract form of cultural identity: multidimensional, attached to many other collective identifications such as class, gender, region or religion. National identity is composed of separate components such as legal, territorial, economical and political aspects but they are all united by nationalist ideology (Smith, 1992). National identification possesses distinct advantages over the idea of a unified European identity as they are vivid, accessible, well established, long popularized and still widely believed.
Above all, Europe lacks a pre-modern, pre-historical past which can provide emotional and historical depth, thus some kind of “thickness” to European identity. Globalization and globalizing culture indeed creates the possibility for a post-national form of cosmopolitan cultural identity (Smith, 1992). Between national revival and global cultural aspirations, Anthony Smith stresses out the dilemma in formulation of a European identity, unacceptable historical myths and memories vs. memoryless scientific culture held together by sole political will and economic interests. However, a general feeling of ‘Europeanness’ and loyalty to Europe in a cultural sense, does not need to conflict with national identities (Andreani, 1999). Although many see it as fundamentally opposed to, and even designed to undermine national allegiance; European identity and national identities do not need to be incompatible. As Smith suggests, European identity can exist from the outside in form of ‘Europeanness’ as a kind of overarching identity, which can embrace national identities without confronting them, similar to national identity which does not need not conflict with loyalty to family (Smith, 1992). Regional identities are also an important part of the debate. The European identity, which in the early 1970s was designed to give the European Community a new role in the international order was transformed to support the connection of the local and regional level with the large-scale European framework, where the nation in a sense was bypassed. Europe and the region were thus not only two alternatives separated from each other, but they were also connected through the identity concept when the EU politicians spent resource packages in emerging regions all over the Europe in order to strengthen European cohesion and the notion of European identity. Therefore, when feelings of regional identities were promoted, the emergence of a European identity was also promoted.
Seen above all as a community of destiny, the European dimension is conceived of as a mediating instance between the global scale and local allegiances. They are no longer seen as opposite phenomena, but as the expression of the complexity of the modern world, in which different layers of allegiance constitute what is often called the multiple identity of the contemporary subject (Smith, 1992). If the analysis of discourses about multiple identities which in EU rhetoric is unity in diversity does not need to be as fleeting and superficial as they claim the reality described is, an essentialist language of identity than can only see imagined communities as false and weak, often implying a nostalgic look at deeper forms of belonging, is also to be avoided (Sassatelli, 2002). Europe as unity and as diversity is simultaneously true and false, and thus European cultural identity can be seen as unity in diversity. In Europe, difference shall be regarded as a value. It is not only the basis for cooperation, but a cultural feature itself (Habermas, 1992). the pronouncements on the future of Europe and the possibility of a collective European identity which seek to counterbalance the apparent negative aspects of the pattern of national identities remain simply projections for the moment and ultimately uncertain of the possibilities of the relationship between the national and the European identities (Orchard, 2002).
In more than half a century, the European integration has evolved from “an international cooperation project in the 1950’s, to a policy making project in the 1960’s, an institutionally consolidated system in the 1970’s and a system trying to foster its own identity and citizenship in the 1980’s and 1990’s”(Bruter, 2005). In the 2000’s, the need for establishing a common European Identity is more pronounced than ever due to the diverse forces of globalization. The European Union has made conscious efforts to encourage the emergence of a sense of common identity among the peoples of its member states. European Union citizenship was established as a form of “thin identity” for the Europeans, while the EU officials are aware of the fact that European Union citizens need a certain level of “thickness” for their identity in order to establish a truly functioning European identity and EU citizenship. Therefore in recent years, the European Union documents emphasized a shared heritage and a history with a focus on commonalities rather than uniformity or homogeneity of the peoples of Europe. So the EU efforts to promote the development of a common European identity aims to create “thick identity” which peoples of Europe can be united and easily separated from the rest of the world in political as well as cultural terms; but this does not mean imposition of clearly defined, monolithic notion of “Europeanness” in cultural terms.
Because the European integration started as a project of economic integration; not surprisingly the Treaty of Rome which established EEC does not include the word “culture” in its text. The EU started to consider cultural aspects of integration since the Paris Summit of October 1972. At the Paris Summit, EC officials realized that the popular identification would be achieved only if the European enterprise became less elitist and more “citizen-friendly”. “The Declaration on European Identity” was signed in 1973 in the Copenhagen Summit by nine member states. The idea of European identity was based on the principle of the unity of the Nine, on their responsibility towards the rest of the world, and on the dynamic nature of the European construction (Starth, 2002). The Declaration on European Identity referred to the “diversity of cultures” and to a “common heritage” (Delanty, 2002). It also emphasized the rule of law, representative democracy, social justice and respect for human rights as “fundamental elements of European identity” (Copenhagen Summit Declaration, December 14, 1973). The EU identity was then defined on the basic principles of the rule of law, social justice, respect for human rights and democracy, and in relation to: the status and the responsibilities of the nine member states vis-Ã -vis the rest of the world; the dynamic nature of the process of European unification. The document was analytically shallow and the political definition of The EU identity was intertwined with the Euro-centric statements invoking a common European culture whose survival is to be guaranteed (Annex 2 to Chapter II, 7th Gen. Rp. EC, 1973).
In December 1974, the Paris Summit Conference certified the idea of the EU identity and gave it more concrete substance by specifying policy objectives (Kostakopoulou, 2001: 44-45). The “Tindemans Report” of 1975 recommended a specific policy for transforming the “technocrats Europe” into a “People’s Europe” through “concrete manifestations of solidarity in everyday life” (Tindemans Report, 29December 1975). Meanwhile, the concept of European identity during the 1970s expanded as an instrument to consolidate Europe’s place in the international order (Strath, 2002). Since 1977 the Commission with the support of the European Parliament has developed a cultural policy, which aims to promote an awareness of a European cultural identity. This was given formal recognition by the Heads of State or Government at the Stuttgart and Milan European Councils in 1983 and 1985 (Shore, 1993). In 1983 the “Solemn Declaration on European Union” was signed by the EC heads of government in Stuttgart, which invited member states to “promote European awareness and to undertake joint action in different cultural areas” (Shore, 2000: 44-45). In the second half of the 1980’s the European integration process was under the joint push of Jacques Delors, who was the President of the Commission from 1985 to 1994, also Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand shifted towards the construction of a “People’s Europe” (Bruter, 2005: 59-67). The decision was taken at Fontainebleau Summit in 1984 to appoint an ad-hoc “Committee for a People’s Europe”, whose task was to support European cultural integration by promoting EC’s identity and its image both for its citizens and for the rest of the world.
The Adonnino Report of 1985 includes proposals for Europe-wide audio-visual area with a European multilingual TV channel, a European Academy of Science to highlight the achievements of European science and the originality of European civilization in terms of wealth and diversity, a Euro-lottery whose prize money would be awarded in ECU (Report on People’s Europe, 29 March 1985). In addition to these, this report proposed the formation of European sports teams, school exchange programs and introduction of a stronger European dimension in education. In addition to these, creation of European postage stamps was suggested on which there are portraits of EC pioneers such as Monnet and Schuman. It is argued that, they may be beneficial in the invention of Community history (Bruter, 2005: 44). This Committee also supported the adoption of initiatives, which included an EC passport, EC driving license, EC emergency health card, EC border signs, EC flag and the financing of an EC TV channel to promote “the European message” (Field, 1997). Most of these proposals have been realized during European integration process within the European Union.
Since Delors presidency of the Commission and in particular since the Single European Act in 1987, the EU has started to express openly its belief “in the influence of European experience on the development of a European identity.” Especially emphasis on programs towards the youth shows that, the EU institutions think that, the emergence of a European identity will occur through the emergence of a new “European culture” among young generations, who did not experience a time of war (Bruter, 2005: 32). In the Maastricht Treaty of 1993, a “common cultural heritage” was mentioned, but there was no attempt to define a “European identity” (Delanty, 2002: 350). According to Shore, what is needed is “the creation of a ‘European consciousness’ that will transcend national divisions” and mobilize the European citizens towards “a new image of themselves as ‘Europeans’ rather than nationals.” (Shore, 1996). This view was also stated in some EU reports, which called for more active policies in culture, including the arts and media, information, education, tourism, sport and heritage (Report on People’s Europe, 29 March 1985). In 2001, the Commission issued a White Paper on European Governance, which emphasized the reinforcement of “European identity and the importance of shared values within the Union.” (Carey, 2002: 388). Finally, European Citizenship emerged as the most important medium for building a widespread and truly functional European common identity. European Union’s goal shall be to create a truly “Citizens’ Europe” which gives more rights to the individuals in form of citizenship who share a common cultural heritage and social sense of unity.
Citizenship is not an essence but a historical construction (Schnapper, 1997). The idea of European Union citizenship was first acknowledged in the Maastricht Treaty, which was signed in 1991 and came into effect in 1993. European patriotism and identity obviously draw on the concept of European citizenship. The complicated collective identity of Europe and the different collective identities of European nations eventually link the process of common identity-building to the legal formation of a European citizenry and the distribution of rights and duties guaranteed for citizens by European law (Von Beyme, 2001). Today citizenship has moved to the foreground of domestic political debates in many European countries as well as the European Union institutions, and it has become a volatile policy area where change is dynamic and continuous even if the citizenship laws remain robust to major changes mainly due to the friction between the nation state and supranationalism in terms of political sovereignty.
While Maastricht Treaty establishes Union citizenship for every person holding the nationality of a Member State; the Amsterdam Treaty addresses this issue by adding that “Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship” (Treaty on European Union Article 8, February 7, 1992). There is a problematical area which The European Charter on Fundamental Rights will not overcome: the citizenship is merely a derived condition of nationality, while certain fundamental rights are based on a mixture of various criteria other than citizenship or nationality alone. Even if the Charter on Fundamental Rights in the European Union adopted as a legally binding instrument with EU law, it will not change anything in this direction and this dilemma will remain to exist. An important problem of the current formulation of European Union Citizenship is that it is not defined as an autonomous concept in Community Law at the supranational level, but defined exclusively by the applicable member state legislation for granting of nationality only at the national level. From the perspective of the legal core of citizenship, EU citizenship might be characterized as a derived condition of nationality simply because there is no Community competence to set up its own criteria for defining nationality or citizenship, thus the formal European identity.
The conception of European citizenship is one of the mechanisms that the integration process creates for further deepening of the Union. After several rounds of enlargements and accession of more than ten new member states in the last decade, the European integration project must focus its efforts on deepening its structures and organization rather than enlargement especially under the forces of globalization. Today, Europe is in need of defining the borderlines of European citizenship which cannot be constructed by a model built on the nation state principles. Although the identity building stage for peoples of the European Union is similar to the process of national identity building; the EU Citizenship shall be comprehended and structured as a whole different entity than national citizenship. Today, the European society is in trouble because of the unclear definition of the EU citizenship and common European identity, or the unhealthy practice of European citizenship through nation state based models in the integrated Europe of our day.
So far, the prospects of a common European citizenship have been basically failure when it comes to practice and the reason is that European Citizenship is incorrectly formulized to serve the aims of national interests rather than the supranational institutions of the European Union. The ultimate attempt of the European Commission to consolidate political integration through a Constitutional Treaty in the year 2005 was rejected by citizens of France and the Netherlands. The public opinion indicates that most citizens in Europe are not eager to become citizens of Europe they are not willing to shift their sovereignty, political allegiance and identities from the national to the supranational level (BaubÃ¶ck, 2006). The results of successive editions of the Eurobarometer suggests that European political identity is weak and there is a great variation across EU member states, while in most EU countries only a very small percentage of people around five percent declare having an exclusive European identity while up to fifty percent do not have any sense of European identity (Gubernau, 2001: 176). Indeed, Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 makes it clear that “citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship” and that “the Union shall respect the national identities of its member states” European law therefore does not recognize any authority of the Union in determining its own citizens (Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty of the European Union: Article 1, October 2, 1997). Instead, the current legislation suggests that the European Union citizenship is simply derived from national member state citizenship, which is highly problematic to serve the jurisdiction of the European Union institutions.
Meanwhile, the European Citizenship has been a rather insignificant area of law and source of rights so far, after nearly two decades it had been introduced into the Community Law. In practice, the concept of EU Citizenship has been used with an intention to close certain gaps of free movement issues. The legal rights associated with citizenship of the Union are to travel and reside anywhere in the EU; to vote and to stand for election in municipal and European elections in the member state of residence, regardless of nationality; to have consular protection by the consulate of another member state while outside the EU; to petition the European Parliament and apply to the European Ombudsman (Consolidated Treaty of Rome Articles 18â€“22). Based on general principles of the Community law, specifically the principle of non-discrimination having direct effect, an extension of the substance of citizenship to third-country nationals who have legally lived within the boundaries EU for a long time; and the issues that correlate with the interrelation between rights and duties remain as a question (Reich, 2001). Deviating from the past trend towards liberalization, there are numbers of countries, such as Austria, Denmark, and Greece, where restrictive citizenship laws have been either retained or made harsher despite growing numbers of settled immigrants. The Netherlands is the most dramatic example of a turnabout of a previously liberal naturalization policy. Especially interesting is a new trend to add citizenship tests to the already widespread requirement of learning the dominant language. Such tests have recently been introduced in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. They include questions about the country’s history, constitution, and everyday culture which almost require university level education for immigrants in order to become citizens (BaubÃ¶ck, 2006). While language skills are certainly useful for social and political integration, the usefulness of the largely implausible questions asked in citizenship tests raise doubts. This new approach in European Union member states to naturalization reminds of exclusionary ethnic conception of citizenship as the new naturalization policies emphasize integration as a precondition for access to citizenship and they define integration as an individual effort and achievement rather than as a structural condition of equal rights and opportunities. Although citizenship is no longer attached to ethnic identity and descent, it is not accepted as an individual entitlement and a tool for integrating societies of heterogeneous origin. Instead, citizenship becomes a reward for those who do not pose a threat to the wider society because they have sufficient income, can communicate in the dominant language, identify with the history of their host society, and subscribe to its public values.
Before the enlargement of 2004 which resulted with ten new member states joining the EU, the European Commission identified three priorities for the EU which highlighted “giving full content to European citizenship” (European Commission, 2004). In 2006, the second phase of the EU Programme to Promote Active European Citizenship was launched. The concept of a European citizenship incorporating shared values and a sense of belonging to the European Union in addition to legal rights were officially acknowledged by the Programme. However, today the European Union citizenship is increasingly contested in domestic politics and may become a source of conflict between member states. Experience suggests that spontaneous convergence among member states towards liberal norms is no longer a plausible expectation. Almost two decades after creating a citizenship of the Union, it shall be the time that European policy-makers take the initiative of introducing common European standards for the citizenship laws of the member states. Although this does not require imposing a single European citizenship law, the process might start with an open method of coordination and could result in an authority of EU law to regulate those aspects of national legislation that violate principles of European solidarity or result in discrimination and exclusion of third-country nationals. After all, the EU citizenship has unfortunately remained a metaphor with some added value to it until today. The EU citizenship in order to practically exist needs direct effect of Community law, and today it is expected by all Europeanists that we will soon see if it can become a genuine source of rights.
Although Europe gave birth to the nation state system and the Europeans are creators of the idea of citizenship; peoples of the European Union are in desperate need of making an up-to-date definition of the EU citizenship today. The Classical Model of Citizenship, also known as the National-Political Citizenship, is a product of Europe in the context of the classical European nation state. One major problem in today’s Europe is that this model is crumbling and no more capable of providing a complete comprehension of citizenship in the integrated Europe under our day’s dynamic conditions. The Classical Model applies to two types of nation state formations in Europe: the republican or civic model supported by France or the nationalist or ethnic model supported by Germany and the Eastern European states. Although the French model, also adopted by the Americans, focuses on the political qualities of culture and the German model focuses on the ethnical qualities as major elements; both include the concept of nation, in other words people on a certain territory with certain rights and liberties as their main element. However, the strict attachment to territory when defining citizenship is no more applicable under today’s European Union conditions; as free movement within the Union is established in recent years. On the other hand, the rights and liberties given to the increasing immigrant population and ethnic groups are questioned as the main factors of inconsistency, distress and tension in the socio-political life in Europe today. After all, the European Union is not a nation-state, it entails a whole different type of organization, a supranational entity above the level of member nation-states. Nonetheless, today the EU citizenship rights are derivative of national citizenship and currently they do not form a compelling basis for an active European citizenship of participation (Delanty, 2000a: 83). On the other hand, to what extent EU citizenship departs from the nation-state norms of citizenship remains the question.
The European integration has a positive impact on the decline of nation states as they begin to share their sovereignty for building a supranational entity which entails an economical as a well as a political unification of Europe. Nevertheless, The National-Political Citizenship Model is out of date with the formation of today’s integrationist Europe. European nation states are breaking down as they face with drastic changes driven by diverse outcomes of globalization, such as heterogeneous multicultural structure and free movement within the European Union which challenge the territory principle of the nation state structure. In Scholte’s words, “contemporary governance is multilayered; it includes important local, substate regional, suprastate, regional, and transworld operations alongside and intertwined with national arrangements” (Scholte, 2000: 143). An important consequence of these shifts is that governance has become more fragmented and decentralized. Globalization has accelerated the efforts for building European citizenship by creating gaps in effective governance at national level and refocusing attention on problems best dealt with at the sub-national or supra-national level (Rumford, 2003). Therefore, one can conclude that globalization has opened up the field of European governance. As a result, the new supranational state organization in Europe does not allow powerful nation states of the 20th Century to exist, and therefore the Classical Model of Citizenship which relies on the nation-state structure simply needs to be changed or reconfigured under today’s circumstances.
In the literature of liberal democracy, citizenship is meant to empower citizens to hold rulers accountable. In this respect, Union citizenship hardly satisfies democratic aspirations (BaubÃ¶ck, 2006). Furthermore, problems exist at the supranational governance level as the European Parliament is the primary legislative body of the European Union but it is not a sovereign legislative body. BaubÃ¶ck argues that the true value of being a citizen of the European Union lies not in rights one has towards the institutions of the Union, but in rights towards the other member states as the Union citizenship extensively prohibits national governments from discriminating against the citizens of other EU states (BaubÃ¶ck, 2006). Therefore, the Union citizenship contributes to creating a common space of free movement in which the European citizens do not lose their rights when crossing internal national borders; but it does not mean more when practiced. After all, there is a broader aspiration to promote relationships between the Union and European people which are to be more direct and substantial than in the they were in the past and which are less intervened by the member states. Europeanists also believe that an enhanced relationship between the EU and its citizens will increase effectiveness and efficiency of European institutions, therefore reduce the EU’s democratic deficit while increasing the Union’s political legitimacy
As a result, the present formulation of European Union citizenship has failed to establish a direct connection between the citizenry and the European Union institutions, without ties to the nation state. Today, the current formulation of the EU citizenship has two main features. It is derived from member state citizenship and it gives free access to the other member states. However, the current regime does not merely create easier access to other member state territories but it also generates inequality and exclusion. Some European Union member states may give national citizenship to immigrants in three years while another state can call for ten years of residence; thus there is no standards for becoming a European Union citizen for immigrants as the Union citizenship is merely connected to national citizenship. On the other hand migrants who move frequently between different countries of the Union but stay in the territories of the EU for long periods of time may never have a chance to become citizens of the Union, since nearly all states require a certain period of continuous residence in their national territory as a condition for naturalization. There are different ways of responding to these problems. A radical solution would be to turn the relation between supranational and national citizenship upside down, so that the former determines the latter (BaubÃ¶ck, 2006). This would propose a federation for the European Union and there is not much political support among European citizens as well as governments for building such a European federation. The alternative remains to be to hope for a spontaneous convergence of national citizenship policies from below; which experience suggests that is not realistic to expect soon. Many national reforms have moved in similar directions over the past decades, but it would be rather optimistic to believe that member states are willing to change their laws in order to avoid burdening other states with immigration problems or in order to secure roughly equal conditions for access to citizenship across Europe (BaubÃ¶ck, 2006).
Other than the Classical Model of Citizenship, there are several alternative formulations which may serve as basis for a common European Union citizenry. Revised National Citizenship Model is a new approach to citizenship; it is basically a version of the national-political model of citizenship which is arguably updated to today’s conditions in Europe. Indeed, this model is probably the most commonly practiced citizenship model by the European states today, which simply took place of the classical model or mixed with the classical model due to change of the environment in Europe. Although this model supports openness in terms of a potential of citizenship for resident non-citizens, political rights are not given to the non-citizen residents which is central to discussion to overcome the potential problems in Europe centered in minority issues. Therefore, this model does not seem to provide a solution for the European Union citizenship in today’s circumstances as it has already been largely practiced in parts of Europe. Finally, although the revised model makes it easier for non-citizen residents to earn citizenship rights while it simultaneously closes the doors for newcomers by establishing effective control over borders. The model makes it even harder to migrate into a country in any legal status which would decrease the non-citizen resident population. Most states in Europe such as England and Germany which are regarded as the hardest countries to earn citizenship; empower this model rather than the classical model today, to create a solution for their migration problems.
The Post National Citizenship Model is the most complex, revolutionary and appropriate model for the future of European integration. Habermas, as a well-known European constitutionalist and pro-integrationist who comes from a republican nation state tradition, puts a lot of emphasis on civil rights and liberties while his arguments center on the idea of constitutional patriotism. The main argument is that Europe needs a public sphere, a public opinion and a political culture to create a common identity but the values used in creation of this singular European identity should not be ethnic or nationalist values and solely political elements of culture (Habermas, 1994). Ratification of a European Constitution would provide the easiest way to achieve these values to create a single European identity, which definitely cannot be created with ethnic or nationalist elements, which should remain as secondary identities. On the other hand, Habermas argues that further enlargement of the EU will make integration even more difficult and the deepening of European Union is more important than its widening policies under today’s conditions (Habermas, 2005). Finally, the newcomers are seen as a risk for the model of citizenship and the future of Europe because they must adapt to the European political culture or they will surely pose a threat to the democratic system of the state. Habermas concludes that a resident non-citizen should be entitled as a citizen only when being a part of the European political culture by building positive relations with the majority of the society and by being schooled in the educational system of the host country to for full adaptation (Habermas, 1994).
On the contrary, Yasemin Soysal uses a different perspective while discussing the Post National Citizenship Model. The main argument which lies at the heart of the debate is that the human rights are more important than political rights because citizens are individuals which raise the importance of human rights (Soysal, 2000). The key point here is the fact that, although political rights are highly related to the nation state structure, the human rights are not related to the development of nation-state thus they are independent from a nation-state based citizenship model. Massive decolonization, the rise of transnational agencies, the emergence of multilevel politics and most importantly, increasing immigration after the Second World War are four developments that created the historical background for the rise of human rights in Europe in last fifty years. In Today’s Europe, boundaries of citizenship are fluid, multiplicity of membership and universal personhood exist which are basic characteristics of the Post National Citizenship Model. As a result, the post-national citizenship model is compatible with today’s European Union, as it does not count on national borders and only universal characteristics rather than national ones. Therefore, post national citizenship model suits well with the concept of a European citizenship, not created by ethnic, national or religious elements of culture but the political culture, as it was also argued by Habermas (1994, 2003).
On the other hand, there is a counter-argument about the possible success of the Post National Model application in Europe. The critical argument made by Soysal is that the rising trend of human rights creates a paradox, which lays as the main reason behind the increasing minority violence events across Europe. Soysal asks in today’s environment of emphasized civil rights and post national individualism, how are particularistic identities affected, given the rise of human rights, particularistic identities such as ethnical, religious and national identities rise simultaneously (Soysal, 2000). The conclusion is that the Post National Citizenship Model sits on top of the paradox; civil rights and particularistic identities rise simultaneously as increasing liberties prepare grounds for expressing these identities. Although human rights are rising for the privileged citizens, not each and every individual in a society such as immigrant minorities in France has full access to human rights because they remain as non-citizen residents, outsiders to the culture and this causes the creation of socio-economical inequality. On the other hand, when these groups are given cultural rights under today’s conditions without the establishment of necessary economic and social integration; the outcomes may be further expression of particularistic identities which will again create a threat to the social system.
The rise of cultural rights is a crucial issue in the post national debate. Cultural rights are defined as an issue of human rights; the issue is related to group rights rather than individual rights in the post-national context (Taylor, 1999). For example the minority violence events on European streets can be understood by observing the rights of these groups of people who are all resident non-citizens and who all don’t have national political rights; and it is important that all are group actions instead of individual actions. Cultural rights of these groups are crucial in a multicultural post-national Europe, and most of the social tension centers on the issue that how much cultural rights should the minority groups have in the context of an integrated Europe rather than a nation state structure. What makes these people different than European Union citizens in the cradle of democracy is the fact that majority rules in democracies and minorities are excluded from the system as a sacrifice simply because democracy is a majority system. On the other hand, in democracies, minorities have belief in the system because they have hopes to be a part of the majority and thus the ruling class one day and that’s how the mechanism of democracy works. However, these minority groups in EU member states seemed to lose their hopes of having political rights, or becoming citizens in other words; thus they pose a threat for the democratic system under today’s national-political citizenship model as Habermas also argues (1994). As these minority groups were left outside by segregation in Europe, and they have no political rights as resident non-citizens; the expression of their adaptation problems turned out to be attacks against the social and democratic structure in the country. These are all problems caused by the crumbling model of classical citizenship and post-national citizenship idea would bring solutions to most of these problematic areas. Immigrant minority groups in Europe would have citizenship rights that would integrate them into the democratic system and give them the chance to be represented, which will provide these groups hope and trust in democracy. As a result, violence on streets would be prevented because these groups would have the chance to fight for their rights in the democratic arena rather than the streets. The integration of non-citizen minority groups will give pace to the deepening process of Europe and it should be achieved before further widening which would slow down the integration in Europe by adding more complexities (Habermas, 2000).
Cultural rights and cultural policy is another important area of tension in the debate of a European Union citizenship. In the Classical Nation state, or Liberal Model in other words, which is exercised by most European states today, public and private are two distinct and clearly separated realms (Habermas, 2003). Cultural rights can be exercised in the private area of life while public area is kept neutral and ethnic or cultural signs are kept out strictly. In France, people are asked not to wear even cross as a symbol of Christianity in the public area, however one can see women wearing headscarf in public in Paris; so the picture is mixed and complex. Taylor argues that this clear separation of public and private spaces aimed by the Liberal model cannot be achieved in a multicultural environment (Taylor, 1999), such as today’s Europe. However, under a multicultural model suggested by Taylor which means the end of the Liberal model, all citizens will not be equal but groups of citizens will have different rights in practice. If such a system will be designed for Europe it would be problematic to govern multicultural societies in European Union, more rights will be asked from the state to overcome the inequalities between the groups and it is questionable how much cultural rights a European state can give as a reply to the enormous demand by different groups. Such a system will lead to chaos in both governance and the society thus keeping the public sphere neutral as it is in the liberal model still is a better proposition for Europe while increasing the cultural rights homogenously to an extent supported by the Post National Citizenship Model.
As a result, one may conclude that citizenship is increasingly post-national, rather than national, and the rights and benefits of citizenship frequently accumulate to resident non-citizens. Equally, the spaces within which citizenship is enacted and contestation and claims-making take place do not necessarily coincide with either the nation-state or the EU (Soysal, 2000). In short, there exists “a proliferation of new forms of participation, and multiple arenas and levels on which individuals and groups enact their citizenship” (Soysal, 2001: 160). The bond between citizenship and civil society can no longer be assumed, and “nationally coded public spheres do not hold” (Soysal, 2001: 172). The application of civil society to a transnational context has attracted criticism; particularly that such a move represents an attempt to reproduce on the supranational level a model that has reached its limits on the national level (Delanty, 1998). There is also the suspicion that the attempt to transnationalize civil society represents a failure to break with the conceptual imagery of the nation-state: “our most basic understanding of what counts as societies are shaped more than we usually care to admit by the modern era’s distinctive rhetoric of nations and national identity” (Calhoun, 1999). Post-national citizenship forms offer inclusion and participation in national state systems of rights and benefits without the need for formal membership of the nationally constituted community (Soysal, 1994, 2001). These new forms of citizenship promise a public space within which citizens can become active, make claims and achieve representation outside the formal mechanisms of representative government instituted at the national level (Rumford, 2003).
At this point, a potential problem with the current formulation of the European Union citizenship is that it assumes the existence of a certain community experience for all European citizens. The building blocks of communality in the construction of an active citizenship are linked with the need for existence of a set of common characteristics in order for citizenship to have a strong participatory dimension (Lavdas, 2001). Therefore the idea to connect the factors that strengthen citizenship in this sense with the culture and values of a national community emerges. Because the EU citizenship is not defined autonomously and remains connected to national level today, it cannot motivate action by engaging with the emotions of the European community. One strategy can be to encourage different types of participation in the overall context of the emerging European polity, celebrating the multiculturalism at the level of meaningful group involvement; meanwhile fostering republican forms of politics that corresponds to a genuinely democratic order and enable citizens to address European issues of political and economic governance, issues which become increasingly indefinable at the level of the nation state for the filling the meaning of an inactive form of today’s EU citizenship.
Central to the discussion of a post-national citizenship which is based on a civic understanding of identity is the formulation of a cultural citizenship versus a civic citizenship in Europe. In cultural citizenship, the citizenry is seen as having a major impact on the cultural processes of society. Indeed, this approach is very different from the recent past when citizenship took for granted cultural questions and it has entered new conceptions of multiculturalism and cultural rights more generally (Kymlicka & Norman, 2000). In these new approaches to citizenship, the problem of inclusion has become more obvious as it must address the problem of culture and identity. This wider societal turn to citizenship can be seen in part as a reaction to neo-liberalism that, especially in the English-speaking world, dominated political discourse. The new ideas of citizenship, which have a strong resonance in third way politics, are different from the neoliberal idea of the individual as a consumer and older liberal notion of citizenship as a formal status. The emphasis is more on the duties of citizenship and engagement in civil society than on the traditional notions of rights. The view is gaining widespread acceptance that citizenship is something that must be learnt and that rights must be accompanied by corresponding duties (Delanty, 2003). Against the discourse of disciplinary citizenship that is implicit in the new governmental policies, cultural citizenship as an alternative conception of citizenship is advocated (Delanty, 2007).
Supporters of cultural citizenship believe that it will impose a common public culture on all ethnic groups thus weaken non-Western values and overcome racial segregation in the European land. The idea that citizenship entails duties as well as rights and moreover has a deeper civic dimension that entails acceptance of common values is not something that is harmful to multiculturalism (Delanty, 2007). On the other hand, the notion of cultural citizenship is preferable to disciplinary citizenship which is implicit in governmental policies because there is a need for a more dynamic view of citizenship as entailing developmental processes of learning rather than the fixed, rule learning model implied by disciplinary citizenship. Citizenship must be able to give voice to personal identities, rather than being seen as merely a civic rights and duties of recipients of state services. Culture and citizenship must be seen as connected in a cognitive relationship by which learning processes in the domain of citizenship are transferred to the cultural dimension of society (Delanty, 2007).
European identity has been defined in various ways that do not address the question of belonging and of citizenship until today. Indeed, much of the interest in defining the European cultural identity has been inspired by the need for the European Union to construct a strong identity in order to distinguish its frontiers. Nevertheless, this has led to a divisive kind of identity, which has been internally reproduced in defensive identities (Delanty, 1995). The European cultural identity is in fact critical for drawing the lines for citizenship and it shall be tied more closely to discourses of belonging. The definitive goal of cultural policy, as interpreted by the European Commission, the supreme supranational body of the EU, is the strengthening of the sense of belonging to the Union. Therefore, cultural policy is mostly regarded as an integration factor between the peoples of Europe for strengthening citizens’ feeling of belonging to one and the same Post-National Community. As cultural policy relates to participation in civil society, it is also connected with citizenship in various ways. Traditionally, cultural policy has served nation states as an instrument to promote solidarity and unity. However, in the context of the EU, cultural policy is a means to ensure the stability of a singular society by creating a general system of values or a cultural system for the peoples of Europe as a whole at the Post-National level.
The European Commission addresses the benefits of transnational cooperation among member state societies and reinforces awareness of European cultural heritage to provide a model of civic and liberal nationalism at the Post-national level. The Commission seems to support a kind of liberal citizenship while it argues that civic nationalism must be a part of any form of citizenship; however, applicability remained the biggest problem as the Commission had not favored group-differentiated rights and committed on the ideal of unitary republican citizenship (Moreira, 2000). On the other hand, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) as an important assembly for regional and local representatives suggests a more culturalist understanding of citizenship. The Treaty of Maastricht established the Committee of the Regions as a consultative body for integration at the regional scale which has been critically important for supporters of European integration because Europeanists often see regions and regionalization as a central part of the process of building a united Europe (Painter, 2008). Transnational European citizenship is often seen as a supranational project with a goal to Europeanize citizenship of the peoples of Europe which is possible through weakening the attachment between nation state and citizenry. There is an important connection between the project of building a transnational European citizenship and the prominent role of regions and regionalization within the grand process of European integration, regarding citizenship ties to nation state boundaries. Nevertheless, when a universal form of European citizenship is the considered, then political regionalism may become a threat to the pan-European ideal.
Unlike the Commission, the Committee of the Regions proposes a more culturalist understanding of European Union citizenship. the use of multiculturalism seems to indicate that such nationalist citizenship would be liberal and is protective of minority rights. Because the European Commission insists on a neutral vision of EU citizenship, it is likely to conflict with the Committee of the Regions, and in particular with those regions with strong collective identity, which value culture in itself and treasure membership of their polities as source of identity. Tension among institutions is certain to increase especially over the EU cultural policy. Therefore it can be concluded that an important aspect of the problem with European Union citizenship today is that the Commission fails to address the complex relationship between the two broad concepts of culture and citizenship by ignoring multiculturalism and cultural citizenship. More importantly, the disagreement between the Commission and the CoR over culture and the value of diversity in the discussion of Union citizenship indicates the divergence over citizenship and membership in transnational context. Finally, there may be a new consensus in EU politics that combines liberal nationalism and liberal multiculturalism as the best form of EU citizenship.
After all, citizenship can be described as both a set of practices such as cultural, symbolic and economic practices and a bundle of rights and duties including civil, political and social rights that define an individual’s membership in a polity (Painter, 2008: 8) It is critical to recognize both aspects of citizenship while also recognizing that without the latter, individuals cannot hold civil, political and social rights. Finally, the notion of Union citizenship shall be multidimensional; neither national or antinational nor supranational but transnational. Far from being against the state, it presupposes a reappraisal of the myths attached to the sovereign nation state. In that respect, ‘being a European’ does not mean creating a new positive and singular social identity, but rather trying to define a locus of communication and mutual recognition between distinct reflexive national identities (Lacroix, 2009).
European citizenship is seen as a potential basis for the collective identity of Europeans and the idea of an inclusive community beyond the nation-state (Eder & Giesen, 2001: 267). European citizenship shall be “post-national”, because it does not only involve membership and participation in a supranational polity, but also because it undermines the implicit link between nationality, national identity and citizenship of the classical model of citizenship and therefore moves the concept of citizenship beyond the territorially defined nation-state formulation (Soysal, 1994). Besides, European citizenship may be described as a “portfolio” form of citizenship because it can involve the more or less contingent combination of different rights, duties and practices drawn from, or related to, a mix of territorial jurisdictions or scales or none in particular (Painter, 2008). However, citizenship shall not be only about legal rights of Europeans which are defined in Maastricht Treaty, but a common identity is also a crucial dimension to European citizenship. Nonetheless, a common identity does not necessarily imply a singular and uniform European cultural identity but it can refer to a sense of being a European citizen and existence of shared values as European people. As a result, formulation of a post-national European citizenship will be shaped by changes from below, as well as from above, simultaneously including and excluding the nation state (Shaw, 1998: 251).
In conclusion, it is apparent the Classical Model of Citizenship which was created for the nation-state system clearly does not meet the needs of today’s integrated Europe and new models of citizenship are developed to suit with the creation of a European Citizenship. Among the few main new models of citizenship, the Post National Citizenship Model successfully creates a citizenship idea that is independent from the nation state structure, compatible with a new supranational yet multicultural European identity and finally driven by political qualities of culture rather than particularistic identities or ideologies to provide a certain level of “thickness” and a feeling of belonging which has critically been missing in the EU efforts for establishing a common European identity and a functional European citizenship. Therefore, the Post National Citizenship Model is the one to provide understanding and offer solution to the issues of integration to the European society as well as to create a common European identity. Nevertheless, one should not forget the fact that the concept of citizenship is a historical construction which has to be a dynamic notion to be able to meet the day’s requirements in order for the European society and national governments to properly function. After all, citizenship is a construct; but at the same time it is a historical construction.
The Europeanists and optimists often suggest that the European Union identity needs time in order to civil European society to emerge through the creation of common European public sphere while the Euroskeptics and pessimists claim that it is nothing more than an account of the elite to homogenize Europe in a line of hegemonic cultural discourse.
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