Prospects for a European Identity

  • Montserrat GuibernauEmail author


In several respects, the EU represents both a novel system of quasi-supranational governance and a novel form of political community or polity. But it is also a fragile construction for it remains a community still in the making with an ambiguous sense of identity and within which powerful forces are at work. This paper has three main aims: first, to stress the shifting nature of Europe’s geographical frontiers and assess whether cultural frontiers have remained more stable throughout time. In particular, it examines the main criteria, which have traditionally been employed when having to decide who should be included and excluded from Europe. A different question concerns the requirements for EU membership and the monopoly of the adjective “European” by the EU, which somehow has become to be identified with Europe. Second, to explore the prospects for the emergence of a European identity. Here, I argue that European identity stands as a “non-emotional identity” in sharp contrast with traditional forms of national identity associated with intense nationalist feelings. Third, through the analysis of the most recent Eurobarometer (annual survey of EU’s public opinion) to examine the views of Europeans regarding the EU at a time of a major global economic crisis. To conclude, the paper explores the main challenges to be faced by a still incipient European identity.


European identity Boundaries of Europe EU image EU dissatisfaction Enlargement 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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