A Study On The European Identity

23 Mar 2015 27 Apr 2017

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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, Catholic-Romance, Protestant-Germanic, Orthodox-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.

A New European Union Identity:

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. Jürgen 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: 86-100). 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. Jürgen 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).

History of European Union Identity:

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-à-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 c

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