The chapter develops a theoretical model for explaining individual identification with Europe that systematically links approaches to collective identity in social psychology and explanatory factors of European identification deduced from public opinion research. The comprehensive theoretical framework includes both individual attributes and characteristics of the national context as explanatory factors of European identity formation in the EU mass public. The discussion pays particular attention to the implications of two key events in the recent history of European integration for the formation of a collective European identity among EU citizens: the EU’s enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe in 2004/2007 and the financial and economic crisis that has affected the EU and its member states from 2008 onwards.
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As previously discussed, reverse effects are equally possible, with better informed citizens and those with more experience with other Europeans and EU integration identifying less with Europe. The theoretical model of European identification with Europe accounts for both positive and negative effects by developing alternative hypotheses for empirical analysis.
A second source of heterogeneity in the formation of European identification may spring from developments at the European level. That is, while singular events and changes in the process of European integration over time a priori affect all EU member states, citizens within member states may still perceive and experience these changes and events in different ways, depending on differences in member states’ political, economic, or social characteristics. Section 3.3 will discuss this second source of variation in European identification by exploring variation in the determinants of European identification by member state, first, in response to the EU’s eastward enlargement 2004/2007, and, second, the wake of the economic and financial crisis starting in 2008.
The financial and economic interdependencies between Eurozone countries became clearer after the onset of the crisis. These changes and their implications for the effects or Eurozone membership on European identification are discussed in Sect. 3.3.3.
Prior to Eastern enlargement, no more than three countries had joined the EU at the same time.
The ten new member states joining the EU in 2004 added only about 5% to the EU’s GDP (at current prices). At the time of accession, only Cyprus and Slovenia reached comparable or higher per capita income levels than the least affluent EU15 member states Greece and Portugal. Per capita income in the new member states ranged from about 43% of the EU15 average in Latvia to about 78% in Cyprus. For a detailed account of GDP/capita and comparison of old and new member states, see European Commission (2006).
In 2004, the average labour productivity in the new member states was less than two thirds of the EU15 level. Employment rates stood at 56% in the new member states versus 65% in the EU15, while total unemployment was 13% in CEE and 8% in the EU15. For a detailed account of labour productivity and employment and unemployment rates in old and new member states, see European Commission (2006).
Shares of population at risk of poverty ranged from less than 10% in the Czech Republic, Luxemburg, and Slovenia to more than 20% in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal (European Commission 2006).
See European Commission (2009b) for a detailed account of types and volume of EU transfers allocated to old and new member states after enlargement.
Between November 2008 and July 2012, bailout programmes were initiated for Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, and Spain.
By way of example: In Germany, the ESM was challenged in Constitutional Court, most notably by MPs from the government coalition, while public opinion polls showed a clear majority of respondents opposed to bailout payments (see results reported in Bechtel et al. 2014; Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 2010a, b, 2011a, b, c, 2012a, b). In France, too, public opinion polls found a majority to oppose further bailout measures for Greece (Bloomberg News 2011). In Slovakia, parliament initially rejected the expansion of EFSF whereas in Finland, parliament only reluctantly agreed to expand the EFSF.
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Bergbauer, S. (2018). The Sources of European Identity: A Theoretical Model for Explaining Individual Identification with Europe. In: Explaining European Identity Formation. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-67708-8_3
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