European Journal for Security Research

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 73–92 | Cite as

Identity and Insecurity: Societal (In)security and Emergent Legal Challenges to European Identity

  • Nikolai George Lewis HolmEmail author
  • Thorbjørn Waal Lundsgaard
  • Kristoffer Amundsen
Original Article


This paper challenges the notion that European identity building remains a certain and effective path to societal security in the European Union. Instead, it argues that other emerging securitizations in the face of the migration crisis now represent a major challenge to European identity as the foundation of societal security in Europe. It begins by addressing the nature of the Copenhagen school and the societal security concept, then illustrates how it can be used to understand the post-war securitization of European identity and subsequent identity building process. However, the article then challenges the established normative position at European identity is a reliable security referent by highlighting the ongoing challenges posed by member-state counter-securitizations in the context of the migration crisis. These securitizations in turn manifest into legal challenges that threaten the foundations of European identity building. By focusing on themes of identity building, threat perception, and response, this paper highlights how the position occupied by the constructed notion of pan-European identity is declining in its role as a source of security and increasingly portrayed as a referent for member-state insecurity.


Copenhagen school Identity building Securitization Societal security Values 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no potential conflicts of interest or financial benefits with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikolai George Lewis Holm
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thorbjørn Waal Lundsgaard
    • 2
  • Kristoffer Amundsen
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Social ScienceNord UniversityBodøNorway
  2. 2.CopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.OsloNorway

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