Constructing Europe's Identity: The External Dimension

Constructing Europe's Identity: The External Dimension

Constructing Europe's Identity: The External Dimension

Constructing Europe's Identity: The External Dimension


Departing from traditional analyses based on internal measures, this book explores the creation of a European identity through the EU's interaction with the external environment. The book concentrates on three broad areas - socioeconomic issues, foreign and security policy, and home affairs - each associated with a Maastricht pillar.


When we speak of a European identity, we are not just asking whether there is a common image of the continent, the eu, or their people. European cars and clothes may have some stylistic similarities by contrast to American or Japanese, but this is at most tangentially related to the question of identity. That question, rather, concerns to what extent internal cultural similarity and external cultural distinction form the basis for European unity and produce a coherent and consistent European behavior from one context to the next.

We say that an individual has achieved a strong identity, thus, when she or he is able to maintain much the same way of thinking and the same sense of who she or he is when moving from family into public life, from one job to another, from work to leisure, or from a room full of friends to one full of strangers. We say people have a weak identity when their sense of personal autonomy is subordinated to others, as children's may be to parents'; when different contexts and external stimuli bring out very different versions of them; when it is unpredictable which of their conflicting internal impulses will come out on top.

Achieving a strong personal identity is generally considered a good thing. It is a desirable part, we usually think, of the individual maturation process. It is what gives each of us a sense of self in relation both to others and to our own biological needs and drives, our sensory experiences, and our impulses. It allows us to think of ourselves from the point of view of others, and as coherent and consistent enough to have biographies.

There are those who question whether this individualistic understanding of identity is altogether a good thing, who point to its costs in psychological stress and arguably loss of community. They point out that . . .

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