Economical, Political and Social Identity of European Union

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Economical, political and social identity of European union:

How can an European union ‘citizen’ identity be produced?

Zuzana Kokindová

ESF MUNI 2008

European Union today has 27 member states. It didn’t happen just from one day to another, it has a long history. It started with The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951 and became through long process The European Union (1993) which is based on Maastricht Treaty. This treaty, for the first time, talk about union between people, not just in business sphere.

“We are not forming coalitions between states but union between people” (Jean Monnet)

Since this time people more and more talk about European identity. It is just a term that somebody created or it is reality? Can a European identity be developed?

At the beginning I would like to explain identity, on national and also on E.U. level and what they have common. After that will be explained two perspectives, about the way how E.U. identity can be produced. Firstly essentialism, after that constructivism and some examples from E.U. reality. Some facts from Barometer and my conclusion, how E.U. identity can look like.

Now we stand in front of first question. What really means identity? When we take national identity, it is something based on history, literature, values, culture, media - these create some symbols, rituals, national language, some stories, historical events - something based on shared experiences, which give meaning to the nation. It is a big process, it is not something what is ended, identity is created every day.

E.U. has also a lot of perspectives to create identity. In comparison to national identity it has also similar assumptions to create own identity. It has own history: since 1952 when ECSC was established but not just from this date, if we take the history from each nation, it is not just about that one nation, in that history are a lot of connections with other countries. If we take, for example Austro-Hungarian Empire, the history of the Second World War (not really bright point of history but also), Czechoslovakia and so on. History of E.U. is a ‘history net’ of European countries. It is based on some traditions like Roman law, Christian theology, Greek philosophy and science. E.U. also has values. The ‘core values’ that underpin E.U. are democracy, the rule of law, peace and security, economic stability and prosperity, respect for human rights and minority rights, diversity and tolerance. In E.U. there are now processes which have to do a lot with identity. In education there are programs for young people, trough which they can go to study to another country, also they can go through them to work, they can discover new cultures. There are a lot of possibilities to cultural exchanges, people are not aware of other nations. Communication between E.U. nations is stronger than ever before. The most of processes which are visible are from economical and political sphere. Political contains, integration of new states, statistics, E.U. law, policies, institutions of E.U. People can travel without borders after establishing The Shengen area. What people see as the biggest impact from E.U. is its economic one. When we take the EURO, one currency can create the stronger than if there are many currencies. There is also tendency to create free market and free movement of labour. Also funds are great for not really economically strong countries. The strongest nations encourage the smallest and the weakest nations. There are money given to the infrastructure of towns, to the education, funds for projects.

When people are asked if they feel more national than European, they have the tendency to defend their own country. When we look at the theories of E.U. integration we can find out that all are based on diversity and autonomy: societies are complex and diverse, pluralistic, institutions protect...
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