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 diversity and autonomy and produce unity, co-operation and integration, ‘spillover’… So we can’t exclude national identity, also E. U. does not want to exclude it.
People in E. U.structure have idea that diversity is not a disadvantage, it is a strong benefit and E. U. can build on it. The E. U. has two perspectives about the way in which identity is produced. First point of view is from the essentialists’ one. It is approach that looks for the ‘essence’ or ‘true core’ of objects, values, identities and cultures. Essentialism is based on idea that identity is built on “core values” which are mentioned at the beginning. Every member country should be identified with these values and follow them. On the other hand, the constructivism has different point of view on the E. U. citizen identity.
This approach talks that identity is not static, it should be understood as a process of becoming within which they are continually mediated and influenced by other factors, built up or constructed. Constructivism tells us that ideas, beliefs, norms and values of elites, as much as experience and actuality of citizens, shape and form international reality of everyday life. Idea put together E. U. social and cultural policies with economic growth and stability-which produce ‘citizen interest’ plus E. U. cultural and social images and institutions, when we count all these factors together we will determine socially constructed E.
U. identity. E. U. citizens are ‘in touch’ with constructivism in their everyday life. All institutions in E. U. try to create an image of our union. We can see E. U. flags all around, it can be on the signs of our cars, at the town buildings, beside the brand new roads they are always boards with the blue flag with circle of 12 stars symbolising European unification, with text about investment from E. U. Everything what is invested form E. U. budget must be signed and it is strongly visible, new infrastructure also. E. U. has own anthem (? Ode to Joy? ) own symbols which represent union.
EURO our common currency, it is strongly in our mind. Before the process of implementation of euro in new member states there are a lot of advertisements in media about it. Media is another tool which gives reports about new thing in Europe. Students appreciate big variety of grants and scholarships for the study abroad. Through E. U. programs such as Erasmus, Socrates and so on, it is a lot of possibilities to go and study or work abroad. E. U. passport also contribute to building identity, E. U. citizens have free movement without special permissions after establishing the Schengen area, it also helped in building open market area.
There are also some problems, some barriers such as languages. There are also some problems, some barriers such as languages. European parliament is a mix of languages, each nation has its own language. Everything should be translated and sometimes the meaning can be lost. No one from member states does not want to abandon using their own language, because it is an affair which has major symbolic meaning. Each official document of E. U. is translated to all official languages which are 23 today. More than one from five employees work in translating company.
On the ministry level the working languages are English, French, and more and more German language. But on the other hand it is an advantage. People are ‘forced’ to learn more languages than their mother tongue. It contributes to understanding other nations, cultures and it connects people. There is also a big gap between countries when we take in consideration their economical situation. In E. U. are strong nations but also the weakest. But E. U. is trying to harmonize statistics by the Eurostat ofice. More than theories can tell, people have the strongest voice.
People are ‘creators’ or E. U. citizen identity. So we can look at the some statistics, what people think about E. U. identity. The question in barometer from 2007: Taking everything into account, would you say that (OUR COUNTRY) has on balance benefited or not from being a member of the European Union? In Euro barometer respondents perceive that their country has benefited from EU membership (58%) as consider that their country has not benefited (29%).
The constructivism talk also about affecting the people, when people feel good, feel stabile, when people see the benefits which E. U.can offer, they start to perceive E. U. as a good choice, and start also feel and see E. U citizen identity. If we take into consideration all facts mentioned in this essay, the future E. U. citizen identity can look like a stream of different identities, each identity has an impact on another, they are ever-changing, forming. There are multiple types of identities- geographical, ethnical, cultural…
All side by side. E. U. citizen identity it is not something imaginary, it is reality and it becomes stronger from one day to another. Bibliography: http://www. euroinfo. gov. sk/index/go. php?id=344 http://ec. europa. eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_first_en. pdf http://europa. eu. int http://www. arena. uio. no/publications/wp03_15. pdf http://www. coe. int/T/E/Com/Files/Themes/Identity/Col3_SG%20-%20RZ_One%20Europe. asp Social constructivism has come of age in contemporary international relations (IR), more and more submissions to presses and journals in both Europe and America constructivist or situate their arguments vis-a-vis those of . In substantive terms and as the three books under review attest, offer detailed empirical studies that amplify and enrich their.