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Fostering European Identity


Abstract and Figures

Over recent years, the concept of ‘European identity’ has received increasing scholarly attention. Despite this progress, political initiatives to foster a shared feeling of Europeanness still appear to be designed largely ad hoc. This contribution aims at providing a link between the existing state of knowledge and policy approaches to promote European identity. With a target group perspective, we develop a classification of measures to promote European identity. This classification is based on the distinctions between a ‘civic’ and a ‘cultural’ European identity. Within this framework, we assess seven proposals: transnational party lists for the European Parliament, an EU Citizens’ Assembly, EU consular offices, a Pensioners’ Erasmus, a ‘European Waltz’ program, an EU public service broadcaster, and a European bank holiday. We conclude that current identity strategies suffer from too narrow target groups that already tend to have a European perspective.
European Integration Studies 2020/14
Fostering European
Sarah Ciaglia
London School of Economics and Political Science
Over recent years, the concept of ‘European identity’ has received increasing scholarly attention. Despite this
progress, political initiatives to foster a shared feeling of Europeanness still appear to be designed largely ad
hoc. This contribution aims at providing a link between the existing state of knowledge and policy approaches
to promote European identity. With a target group perspective, we develop a classification of measures to
promote European identity. This classification is based on the distinctions between a ‘civic’ and a ‘cultural’
European identity. Within this framework, we assess seven proposals: transnational party lists for the Euro-
pean Parliament, an EU Citizens’ Assembly, EU consular offices, a Pensioners’ Erasmus, a ‘European Waltz’
program, an EU public service broadcaster, and a European bank holiday. We conclude that current identity
strategies suffer from too narrow target groups that already tend to have a European perspective.
KEYWORDS: Erasmus, civic identity, cultural identity, Adonnino Report.
European Integration Studies
No. 14 / 2020, pp. 9-25
Acknowledgement: We gratefully acknowledge financial support by Lutz Helmig. We also thank
two anonymous reviewers for their helpful advice.
A common identity within groups fosters mutual trust and cooperation (Akerlof & Kranton, 2000).
This fundamental insight makes ‘identity’ a relevant concept also for the functioning of political
organizations and it is not surprising that issues of ‘European identity’ have received substan-
tial attention in the study of the European integration process as well (see for example: Cram,
2012; Kaina, 2013; Westle & Segatti, 2016). Similar to national identity as one driving factor for
the emergence of the nation state, some type of European identity is seen as a stabilizer for the
existence and further evolution of the political institutions of Europe such as the European Union.
Increasingly, it is acknowledged that public opinion towards the European Union is not solely de-
termined by economic and utilitarian ‘hard’ facts but also by ‘so’ factors that encompass identity
(Mitchell, 2014; Van Klingeren, Boomgaarden, & De Vreese, 2013). In analogy to the common identi-
ty of any other social group, identity of a European type would foster mutual trust of Europeans and,
hence, simplify cooperation and the search for compromises.1 With these arguments, European
identity should be conducive for a cooperative approach that avoids a perspective of narrow nation-
Submitted 03/2020
Accepted for
publication 07/2020
Fostering European
EIS 14/2020
Clemens Fuest
Ifo Institut and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
Friedrich Heinemann*
ZEW Mannheim and University of Heidelberg
* corresponding author, email: friedrich.heinemann@zew.de3
1 For experimental evidence on the link between European identity and cooperation see La Barbera and Ferrara, (2012).
According to these results, there are direct and indirect effects of European identity on cooperative behavior. The indirect
effect is mediated by the generation of trust.
European Integration Studies 2020/14
al self-interest. Hence, it is not surprising that the concept receives particular attention in a critical
stage of European integration that has experienced new serious conflicts and cleavages with the
euro area debt crisis, the refugee issue, the rise of anti-European movements and the Brexit.
The awareness that European identity is a relevant constraint for the future of the integration
process is not new. As early as 1973, at the Copenhagen Summit, the Heads of State adopted a
brief declaration on European identity emphasizing the ‘common heritage, interests and special
obligations’ as essential for Member States’ foreign policy (Commission of the European Com-
munities, 1973). While the terminology was vague in these early years, a first, more substantial
milestone was the ‘Adonnino Report’ (Commission of the European Communities, 1985). With
the mandate from the Fontainebleau European Council, a committee under the chairmanship of
Pietro Adonnino produced a comprehensive list of measures and projects to advance a common
identity, some of which (European flag and anthem, student exchange programs) paved the way
for the most prominent identity-constructing approaches of the following decades like Erasmus.
Identity-supporting initiatives since the Adonnino Report have been largely motivated ad hoc
and have lacked a closer link to the academic literature. These superficial approaches have led
to a problematic narrowness of strategies. For example, in the tradition of the Adonnino Re-
port, measures to foster cross-border mobility of students and apprentices through the current
Erasmus+ program, the EU student card or the promotion of European universities receive sub-
stantial attention in most political reflections on how to foster European identity (a recent promi-
nent example is the Commission's Gothenburg Communication from November 2017: European
Commission, 2017). However, this almost exclusive focus on the young and mobile generation
with an already well-developed European perspective may be unbalanced. It may not sufficiently
reflect the overwhelming empirical evidence that very different target groups (for instance mid-
dle-aged or elderly generations without tertiary education) with a lack of opportunity for trans-
national contacts might be much more crucial addressees.
Here our contribution comes in. Our key objective is to link a well-developed theoretical and empirical
strand in the European integration literature to the ongoing policy debate on appropriate strategies
for fostering European identity. Thus, we hope to provide a contribution that can inform European
policymakers to develop better-targeted strategies at a critical stage of the integration process.
For this purpose, we systematize and assess various triggers that might stimulate identity for-
mation on a European level. Based on a synthesis of the theoretical and empirical literature of
the last years, we identify important target groups that new programs should address and we
develop a classification of measures. Hence, we do not provide an additional primary study to the
huge existing literature but rather approach the issue from a meta-analytical perspective. Within
this framework, we assess the rationale of a few exemplary specific proposals for new identity
triggers in more detail that are: transnational party lists, citizens’ assemblies, a European public
broadcaster, EU consulates, a ‘European Waltz’ program, a Pensioners’ Erasmus, and a Europe-
an bank holiday. Some of these approaches are new, some have been discussed since the time
of the Adonnino Report. We sketch the history, basic ideas and limitations behind these models
and show how they reflect different insights of identity research and for which target group they
are promising. We proceed as follows: In a first step, we briefly take stock of the definitions and
concepts of European identity as they have emerged over recent years (section 2) followed by
a brief sketch of aggregate trends in European identity over the last four decades (section 3).
Our review of the empirical literature describes the robustly significant correlates of European
identity on an individual level (section 4). Based on these insights, we propose a target-group
specific classification of identity fostering measures (section 5). Section 6 develops in more detail
our seven exemplary measures followed by conclusions on the limits and risks of any European
identity fostering strategy.
European Integration Studies 2020/14
of European
2 For a detailed discussion of the definition social and political identity see Kaina and Karolewski (2013) and Dehdari and
Gehring (2017).
3 It was named aer sociologist Luis Moreno Fernández (1986), who first introduced such a question to study sub-natio-
nal identity of Scots and Catalans with regard to Britain and Spain, respectively.
Trends of
European identity
over time
The term ‘European identity’ can in general be described as a feeling of being European “as an
integral part of one’s own social identity”.2 The attempts to conceptualize European identity are
vast and comprehensive and have led to various refinements (Carey, 2002; Friese & Wagner,
2002; Kaina, 2013; Kaina, Karolewski, & Kuhn, 2015; White, 2012).
Excellent data availability has made the straightforward conceptualization of identification ‘as
European’ highly influential. The so called ‘Moreno question’3 is the following one: “In the near
future, do you see yourself as (1) [nationality] only, (2) [nationality] and European, (3) European
and [nationality] or (4) European only?”. This question is regularly asked in the European Com-
mission’s bi-annual standard Eurobarometer survey and widely used in the empirical literature.
Although this framing dominates the empirical research, the literature’s understanding is much
richer. Cram (2012) clarifies that an implicit and latent type of identity is quite distinct from the ex-
plicit identity ‘as European’. The latter is also not fully informative about the intensity of attachment
towards Europe or even ‘EU support’. No matter how ‘European identity’ is precisely defined, there
is a consensus that it is contingent. Like regional and national loyalties shi as a consequence of
external changes (Cram, 2012 on Scottish identity in the Thatcher era) the same holds for European
identity. The insight that a European identity is not strictly exogenous is an important message for
any policy attempt to influence the formation and path of identity evolution.
One of the conceptual refinements of the identity literature that is particularly valuable for a
classification of policy proposals is the distinction between a civic and a cultural component of
European identity (Bruter, 2003). A European ‘civic identity’ refers to the perception to be part of a
European political system or even a ‘European state’ that defines rules, laws and rights with rel-
evance for one’s own life. A focus on the civic dimension would largely equate ‘Europe’ with ‘Eu-
ropean Union’. A European ‘cultural identity’ is independent from these political perceptions and
labels the perception that fellow Europeans are closer than non-Europeans because of shared
culture, values or history. This distinction is important for the classification of identity-activating
measures since, typically, the civic and cultural dimensions of identity will respond differently.
Bruter (2004) finds that ‘cultural’ identifiers have to do with peace, harmony, the fading of his-
torical divisions and co-operation between similar people and cultures, whereas the images of
Europe held by ‘civic’ identifiers are related to the experience of open borders, mobility of citizens,
common civic area, and economic prosperity.
The civic dimension of European identity is particularly related to the perceived ‘legitimacy’ of
the (political) European project. Therefore, for the purpose of our classification, the standard
distinction between ‘input legitimacy’ and ‘output legitimacy’ (Hobolt, 2012; Scharpf, 1999) is also
helpful. Triggers that foster civic identity through the ‘input’-channel refer to the institutions and
processes that lead to political decisions in Europe with a (perceived) high voter involvement.
Approaches towards more European identity through the output-channel concentrate on a good
performance of European policies that effectively deliver salient public goods to citizens.
Figure 1 presents the general trend of European identity from Eurobarometer data between the
early 1990s and 2019. Over these decades, the “(NATIONALITY) only” (e.g. “French only”) answer
competes with the “(NATIONALITY) and European” answer for the first place. Since 2012, the
“double identity” answer (seeing oneself as both having a national and a European identity) has
increasingly beaten the “national only” answer. Since then, also the “European and (NATIONAL-
European Integration Studies 2020/14
ITY)” answer has advanced that puts the European identity even before the national one. Taken
together, the share of respondents that state to possess some type of European identity (either
exclusively or in combination with a national identity) has fluctuated over these three decades
between a minimum of 51% in 2010 and a maximum of 65% for the most recent surveys in 2019.
Obviously, there seems to be an impact of crisis and crisis adjustments on this development. The
minimum was reached in a year that was characterized by the immediate economic and social
fallout from the global financial crisis and which, on top, marked the start of the euro area debt
crisis. A possible explanation for the continuous recovery of European identity since then is that
events like the Brexit and other crises (refugees, climate change, trade wars, populist threats)
may have led to an increasing awareness for Europe and a perception that European integration
may be at risk, which might have activated reflections on Europe and strengthened the formation
of a European identity.
It remains to be seen how the most severe post-war recession as a consequence of the Cov-
id-19 pandemic in 2020 will impact on European identity. A lot will depend on whether Europe is
perceived to react in a convincing and successful way to the economic and social challenges of
these developments.
Figure 1
Moreno question
measuring European
identity, 1992-2019, EU
Source: Eurobarometer 1992-2019, Moreno question: “In the near future, do you see yourself as … ?”; weighted aver-age
according to Eurobarometer data for the ‘European Union’ total.
Aer this brief aggregate perspective, we dig deeper into the heterogeneity of views among Eu-
ropean citizens. Strategies that want to support European identity formation should be based on
a clear understanding about the empirically relevant individual drivers. 4 Only this detailed under-
standing allows to develop identity-fostering strategies with a promising target group perspective.
4 Beyond the individual dimension the empirical literature has paid substantial attention to national characteristics like,
for example, a Member State’s economic and social conditions. For a comprehensive recent survey see (Ciaglia, Fuest, &
Heinemann, 2018).
European Integration Studies 2020/14
Experiences Recources Personality and
attituded Demographics
Discuss politics
personality traits
Values and
regional identity
Gender (male)
Trust in EU
Figure 2
Empirically relevant
determinants of European
Positive effect on European identity
Negative effect on European identity
Among individual-level factors, transnational contact has attracted particularly large attention.
European identity research has covered various types of exchange that range from travelling
(Ceka & Sojka, 2016; Westle & Buchheim, 2016) and personal transnational relations (e.g. be-
ing an intra-EU immigrant, Verhaegen, Hooghe, & Quintelier, 2017) to relationships including
marriages (Schroedter, Rössel, & Datler, 2015; Van Mol, De Valk, & Van Wissen, 2015). While
travelling has a positive effect on European identity, being exposed to a high number of tourists
at home does not show any effect on European identity (Buscha, Muller, & Page, 2017). Stoeckel
(2016) studies international social interactions of about 1,500 German students and finds that
contact increases European identity, particularly for those students who have had a rather weak
European identity before.
The EU’s Erasmus Impact Study (European Commission, 2014, pp. 130, 151) shows that mobile
students and staff do in general feel more attached to Europe than non-mobile individuals, even
before going abroad. However, there is no ‘additional’ effect aer having returned from the stay
Figure 2 summarize central insights from a rich literature with a selective focus on relevant
individual characteristics. Although the empirical literature on European identity provides some
robust messages, an important caveat applies. A good share of the literature offers insights
on correlations but does not show causality. For example, an empirical link between studying
abroad and European identity can obviously be driven by a reversed causality so that students
with a European identity are more likely to go abroad. Moreover, correlations – e.g. between ed-
ucation and socio-economic status – make it difficult to identify the most relevant drivers from
a conglomerate of individual factors. With these notes of caution the following picture emerges.
insights on
European Integration Studies 2020/14
abroad so that the causal effectiveness of Erasmus is not supported. Jacobone and Moro (2015)
find a small positive effect of participation in the Erasmus program on European identity – di-
rectly, and indirectly through a reduction in national and regional identity and increased cultural
exchange confidence, language skills and personal development. Mitchell (2015) concludes that
participating in the Erasmus program indeed encourages European identity significantly. Obo-
rune (2015) surveys about 12,000 Erasmus students and finds that about a third of them feels
more European aer the exchange. Summing up, Kuhn (2015) shows that transnational con-
tacts contribute a lot to European identity formation. However, she also shows that only a small
fraction of the population engages in this, namely young, well-educated and relatively wealthy
people (similarly Datler, Wallace, & Spannring, 2005; Mitchell, 2015).
Apart from actual exchange, experience can also grow with a continuous intellectual preoccu-
pation with political and European issues. This conjecture is confirmed as interest in EU issues
(Verhaegen & Hooghe, 2015; Westle & Buchheim, 2016) as well as discussing about politics (Di
Mauro & Fiket, 2017; Mitchell, 2015; Verhaegen et al., 2017) is also associated with a larger Eu-
ropean identity. Also experimental designs that compare a treatment to a control group confirm
the link: Participation in a simulation of European politics (Ruenz, 2015) or in deliberation meet-
ings on European issues (Di Mauro & Fiket, 2017) strengthen European identity. However, the
findings of Ruenz (2015) also show that the effect is rather small due to the fact that participants
of EU simulations already had high levels of both European identity and EU support before.
Closely related to an individual’s European experiences is the whole conglomerate of factors sum-
marized as ‘resources’ that not only includes the socio-economic status but also intellectual and
mental capacities. These capacities, in turn, originate from education (including language skills).
The individual socio-economic background seems especially decisive for European identity
(Risse, 2015). Waechter (2016) shows that also for minority groups in the EU, the socio-economic
situation drives European identity formation. European identity also increases with higher levels
of education that is highly correlated with socio-economic status (Ceka & Sojka, 2016; Curtis,
2016; Mitchell, 2015; Risse, 2015; Verhaegen & Hooghe, 2015; Verhaegen et al., 2017; Westle &
Buchheim, 2016). Similarly, knowledge (Ceka & Sojka, 2016; Curtis, 2016; Mitchell, 2015; Ver-
haegen & Hooghe, 2015) and information (Bruter, 2003; Di Mauro & Fiket, 2017; Waechter, 2016)
about the EU and politics increases the likelihood to have a European identity.
Non-surprisingly, foreign language proficiency as a particular education dimension is shown to
be an important asset to engage in transnational contact for instance, or in knowledge or debat-
ing politics, and in turn, European identity (Monter, Grad, Albacete, & Condor, 2004). Stoicheva
(2015) stresses the role of multilingualism for European identity, both as a means to communi-
cate and enter into exchange with people from other EU countries.
Personality and attitudes
Personality traits and values including religious imprint and trust in European institutions affect
European identity as well. Curtis (2016) investigates how personality traits affect European iden-
tity in the UK. The study finds that extraversion increases European identity, while agreeableness
(in the sense of being gentle and polite) decreases it. Luhmann (2017) finds that pessimists are
a lot less likely to feel European.
Postmaterialism (Jung, 2008) and cosmopolitan and liberal values (Risse, 2015) positively affect a su-
pranational or European identity. Curtis (2016) also finds that adhering to Christian religion increases
European identity. However, this could also simply be seen as a proxy for cultural closeness. Nelsen
European Integration Studies 2020/14
and Guth (2016) conclude that religion affects European identity: Catholics tend to be more European
than Protestants. However, this only holds as long as the community is a majority in a country.
On national identity and regional attachment, Medrano and Gutiérrez (2001) find that both are
compatible with European identity. However, Jung (2008) points out that national pride decreases
a supranational identity. There seem to be different effects at work here. Ceka and Sojka (2016)
for instance uncover that having a strong national identity decreases the cognitive component
of European identity, but does not affect the affective component of European identity. Moreover,
Westle and Buchheim (2016) discover that those who hold an exclusive European identity are
mainly driven by rejecting their national identity. Dehdari and Gehring (2017) show that in Alsace
and Lorraine a strong regional identity also relates to a high European identity. This holds es-
pecially for the first two generations aer World War II. Brigevich (2016) sheds further light on
the relationship between regional and European identity in French regions. In fact, she finds that
cultural regional identity reduces support for EU institutions, whereas political regional identity
increases support. This supports Dehdari’s and Gehring’s (2017) conclusion that people might
seek to ‘up-level’ (national) political power to the EU so as to increase regional relevance.
A person’s trust in EU institutions, democracy and other Europeans (Bruter, 2003; Ceka & Sojka,
2016; Harrison & Bruter, 2015; Verhaegen et al., 2017) is positively correlated with European
identity although the issue of reversed causality is particularly obvious for this link. Westle and
Buchheim (2016) study the changes from exclusive national to dual European and from dual Eu-
ropean to exclusive European identity. They show that both changes depend especially on factors
related to the civic component of European identity: satisfaction with EU democracy, trust in EU
institutions, EU citizens, and EU politics. Moreover, the ‘opposite’, having trust only in national
institutions and citizens, reduces European identity significantly.
Age has been confirmed in the literature as a major determinant of European identity (Risse,
2015). Jung (2008) finds that across the world, young people tend to have higher levels of su-
pranational identity than people at older ages. Secondly, Ceka and Sojka (2016) differentiate be-
tween cognitive and affective European identity. They observe that the effect of age has opposing
effects in old and new Member States. While in old Member States, cognitive European identity
increases with age, the opposite shows for new Member States. As concerns affective European
identity, young people from new Member States are even more affective than their peers from
old Member States. Waechter (2017) links the generational effect to the numerous opportunities
that the EU provides for young people regarding travelling, studying and working abroad.
There are some studies on European identity formation among children, which support many of
the above mentioned findings. Agirdag et al. (2012; 2016) investigate European identity formation
among Belgian pupils and find that the socio-economic status, both of the child’s family as well
as the overall school’s average, strongly affect European identity: children from working class
families are less likely to identify as European. Moreover, boys identify more as European than
girls. In contrast, neither age nor religion affect European identity during childhood.
Finally, for the individual-level factors, gender seems to have a small but significant effect on
European identity, which remains unexplained in the literature. Male persons are more likely to
have a European identity than female persons (Jung, 2008; Verhaegen & Hooghe, 2015) and also
higher levels of EU support (Henjak, Tóka, & Sanders, 2012).
Robust main findings
Summing up, this literature provides some largely consensual facts about the relevant drivers
of European identity. Overall, key variable groups that are positively associated with identity as a
European Integration Studies 2020/14
Classification of
measures and
target groups
European are centered on cognitive mobilization (e.g. information, discussing politics), transna-
tional experience (so far largely student exchange), intellectual resources (education, language
skills), financial resources and trust in European institutions. Moreover, the literature shows the
high correlation of young age, economic status, educational attainments, language skills and
transnational contact. Those who are most likely to hold a European identity are young, wealthy,
well-educated, and eager to travel, work or study abroad. With other words, the Erasmus target
group is precisely one that already has a large disposition to develop a European view. The divide
on transnational experience can itself reinforce a European alienation of the more constrained
groups. Kuhn (2015) emphasizes potential negative feedback loops of ‘social stratification’:
transnationalism which depends on the social and educational background might even increase
the distance between groups and, hence, further endanger a European consensus.
On target groups, the insights from the empirical literature summarized before have straight-
forward lessons. A focused strategy should try to reach those groups in particular that normally
lack the opportunity for European experiences due to resource constraints of the various types.
Programs should include those who are less educated, lack language skills and have had less
opportunities to accumulate some basic knowledge of the EU and its politics. Particular attention
could be paid to groups that lack sufficient resources and opportunities to engage in transnation-
al contact both at home and abroad. The robust negative correlation between age and European
identity emphasizes the need to reflect the potential of programs for older citizens that, in their
youth, may have lacked the opportunities to spend time abroad. With this target group descrip-
Any strategy to foster European identity should start with a clear understanding about both the
specific dimension of identity and the target groups in focus. For that purpose, we first suggest a
classification and, second, identify target groups.
Our classification (Table 1) of identity triggers is built on the distinction between the civic and the
cultural dimension of European identity. A strategy that wants to activate the perceived common-
al-ities of Europeans within their political system (civic dimension) has two groups of triggers.
The strategy can either address citizens’ involvement in the political decision processes (‘input’)
or aim at improving the provision of the Union’s ‘outputs’ with a high salience. Measures related
to the cultural dimension of European identity would have to create space for the experience of
shared values for Europeans from the different Member States. This can be achieved either through
ap-proaches that simplify transnational contacts and common European experience of different
na-tionalities or through European symbols and common stages of a European public. Obviously,
single identity triggering programs can also be relevant for both the civic and the cultural dimen-
sions of identity (what explains the double entries in Table 1).
Dimension Civic identity Cultural identity
Moderator Input Output Transnational
Symbols and
(1) European party lists
(2) Citizens‘ assemblies
(3) Public broadcaster
4) EU consu-lates
(5) European Waltz
(6) Pension-ers’
(5) European
(6) Pension-ers’
(3) Public
(7) Europe Day as
public holiday
Table 1
Triggering European
identity: Classification
and examples
European Integration Studies 2020/14
consistent with
the target group
tion, it becomes obvious that the current sole pre-occupation of European programs with the
young and well-educated (Erasmus) needs to be reconsidered.
In the following, we discuss seven exemplary measures and programs for which empirical iden-
tity research offers supporting arguments. We have chosen these examples to cover the avail-
able broad space of options as far as possible. Some of these measures have been discussed
before, others have been developed by the authors (for more details on the measures see Ciaglia
et al., 2018). For each of the proposals, we briefly sketch the origin and contents, describe its
position in our classification, its target group and both its potential and limitations.
Transnational party lists
European party lists in the European Parliament have attracted considerable attention in the
recent political debate. These have not only been proposed by the French President Macron in his
Sorbonne speech about the future of the EU (Macron, 2017) but they have also been discussed
within the Parliament for years (e.g., in a report by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs:
European Parliament, 2011). More recently again, in February 2018, the European Parliament
rejected a proposal to re-allocate the current British seats aer Brexit to a transnational constit-
uency (Barbière, 2018), but the issue remains on the political agenda.
The proposal can be classified as an input-related measure fostering the civic dimension of Eu-
ropean identity. It does not address a specific stratum of citizens. Target groups are voters of all
kind for which identity formation could be fostered through information and discussions (‘cogni-
tive mobilization’) about the European elections and pan-European policy issues.
Candidates running for seats on transnational party lists would have to win constituencies dif-
ferent to the current local or national definitions. European party families would each set up a
list with the lead candidate at the very top. To be successful, candidates from these lists need to
get attention across a critical number of EU Member States and, therefore, seek to find policy
issues that are of interest for many of them, hence, of a genuine European nature. Clearly, these
European messages that have an appeal to voters in various Member States are likely to foster
a sense of common European challenges in the election campaigns. Conversely, candidates on
European lists will hardly have a chance to qualify through messages centered on narrow coun-
try-specific national issues. In this sense, the ‘supply’ of political messages and policy offers in
European collection campaigns can be expected to be more European and to address and raise
the perception for common European issues.
Another argument from the political economy of fiscal federalism is that party lists could reduce
the interest in local ‘pork barrels’, i.e. spending items that are highly salient in local constituen-
cies. The resulting ‘common pool’ disincentive leads to an inefficient neglect of European public
goods and the problematic ‘juste retour’ approach to the EU budget since years because politi-
cians seeking reelection in a local district have to please their local voters (Heinemann, 2006).
From a constitutional justice perspective, a transnational list would contribute to reducing the
current misrepresentation of voters from different Member States due to the allocation of seats
to Member States. The downside is that the lists could lead even to an overrepresentation of
large Member States as their candidates could win a critical mass of voters more easily com-
pared to those from smaller countries (Pukelsheim & Oelbermann, 2015).
Finally, Hübner et al. (2017) concludes that transnational party lists require a “uniform, EU-wide electoral
procedure” (p. 40). This could also be a starting point for striving towards more ‘Europeanized’ elections
European Integration Studies 2020/14
that might finally even overcome the need for transnational lists. In the long run, insofar genuine trans-
national political parties come into existence transnational lists could become redundant.
Citizens’ assemblies
The idea to establish European Citizens’ Assemblies has first been promoted by NGOs, think-
tanks and academics rather than from EU representatives (Organ, 2018). The instrument has
been applied on the national level already with Ireland5 being a particularly prominent example.
With the new Commission, this instrument might get more attention from the top: Ursula von
der Leyen, as a candidate for the Commission presidency, had announced a “Conference on the
Future of Europe” in which citizens “play a leading and active role” (von der Leyen, 2019).
Similar to transnational party lists, a Citizens’ Assembly is a measure related to the civic dimen-
sion of identity. It would aim to increase the input legitimacy of EU decision making and offer a
stage for a truly European debate of citizens. Different to the party lists innovation with its em-
bedding of a representative system, the Assembly stresses the direct involvement of citizens in
the Union’s political reflections. Again, it would be a broad measure in terms of its target group
which is the part of the population that follows political debates and it is related to the cognitive
mobilization for European issues. The idea is that the involvement of ‘ordinary citizens’ would
increase the share of the population that pays attention to a European political debate and, hence,
further increases the target group endogenously.
A European Citizens’ Assembly would gather a representative sample of the EU population for
discussing a relevant und timely political issue. The selection could be organized as a lottery by
the Eurobarometer as they have the necessary administrative experience.6 For a start, one could
think of about 100 to 200 participants in order to ensure practicability. As language might cer-
tainly be a barrier, EU institutions could provide for translation services. The final outcome would
be a decision (if it’s an issue with clear options, e.g. yes/no) or a report (if it’s more complex,
e.g. guidelines). The file would be sent to all EU and national institutions and be presented to the
European Council, the European Parliament, and the Commission College. The report would not
have any formal impact, instead it would enrich the political debate and stimulate politics on an
issue. The argument is that the Assembly would contribute to forming a ‘European demos’ on
the one hand, and efficiently facilitating insights from the people to the policy-making process.
A downside is that even the lottery element is no safe precaution that the selection will really be
representative as the acceptance of an invitation will be strongly driven by individual features like
education and political interests.
Despite its practical limitations, the measure is promising from this paper’s point of view as the
kind of debate in such an Assembly would be able to develop shared European policy perspec-
tives and help to perceive various other European commonalities.
European public broadcaster
The idea of a genuine EU-wide public broadcaster was mentioned in the Adoninno Report that
suggested “the development of a truly European television channel” (Commission of the Europe-
an Communities, 1985, p. 22), but, since then, it did not receive serious consideration. Currently,
with Euronews, there exists only one EU-wide broadcaster. However, it does not air on usual TV
and is, therefore, not easily accessible for a large audience. Even though, several national public
service broadcasters take part in Euronews (via the European Broadcasting Union), the majority
5 Ireland’s Citizens Assembly website:
6 In Ireland, selection was organized by an opinion poll agency, too, and was based on a few criteria to ensure a represen-
tative sample: gender, age, region, and social class.
European Integration Studies 2020/14
of shares is held privately (Euronews, 2020). Instead, a public broadcaster is usually required
to focus on news from all regions, civic education, preserving cultural heritage and addressing
various interests of the audience to reach a most broad coverage of the people.7
A European public broadcaster could appeal to both the cultural and civic dimension of European
identity. It is supposed to encourage knowledge, information, and discussions about EU politics
and lead to the valuable ‘cognitive mobilization’ on European debates. Hence, it could impact
positively on the ‘input’ dimension of the European political process. If it reaches a critical level
auf audience, it could contribute to the development of a European public. Its target group are
those that have an interest in political developments from another than their national perspec-
tive. Clearly, its potential will be higher for the part of the population with above-average educa-
tion that has an interest in policy debates.
A European public broadcaster could be founded by all national public service broadcasters and
the governing body could be composed of their representatives only. Accordingly, it would be fi-
nanced and supported technically by all national public service broadcasters together. The aim is
to provide an easily accessible, independent, and genuinely European source of information. The
broadcaster could start with one main task which would be to air all public meetings, hearings,
and press conferences of EU institutions, in particular from the European Council, the European
Parliament and the European Commission, and the new Citizens’ Assembly (or Citizens’ Dia-
logues). Additionally, there could be news shows during the day, produced with contributions
from all national and regional broadcasters. The aim is to allow a broadcaster that meaningfully
complements national public service broadcasters and does not position in competition to them.
Public broadcasters are not uncontroversial. The main counter-argument is that people are forced
to pay for a broadcaster independent from their actual media consumption. Supporters emphasize
the financial and political independence of national public service broadcasters and their mission
to provide information most accurately and objectively and with less pressure to focus on what
‘sells best’. The added value of a European public service broadcaster could be its contribution for
preserving media pluralism even in Member States where this was recently challenged.
EU consulates
The idea to establish an ‘EU embassy with 27 flags’ has been proposed in the literature with a
strong focus on potential cost savings due to potential economies of scale (Bertelsmann Stiung,
2013, p. 56). According to this proposal, EU embassies would provide consular services for all
EU citizens. Beyond the cost argument, such an innovation would clearly have potential to make
citizens perceive the Union as a provider of valuable services. Hence, it relates to the output
dimension of the civic understanding of European identity. EU embassies and consulates would
address the part of population that travels internationally, be it for touristic or professional rea-
sons. These groups could perceive EU infrastructure as providing insurance and assistance, e.g.
through the issuance of ‘laissez-passez’ travel documents in case they lost their passport or in
cases of illness, crime victims or other emergencies.
Already the Adonnino Report (Commission of the European Communities, 1985, p. 21) has
identified assistance of European citizens in third countries as European task where Member
States should also assist nationals from other Community countries. Today, EU countries already
co-operate with regard to Schengen provisions or visa application centers in third countries (for
details see Bertelsmann Stiung, 2013). Moreover, the European External Action Service has a
network across the world with regard to foreign policy issues and diplomatic assistance for the
7 ARTE is a German-French cooperation and, hence, not pan-European.
European Integration Studies 2020/14
High Representative of the EU. However, it does not provide direct consular support for citizens.
The Lisbon Treaty has made a first step in that direction by prescribing that every EU Member
State’s embassy shall provide for consular support for all EU citizens (Art. 20 TFEU). Never-
theless, a genuine EU consulate that replaces national representations would be a salient step
beyond national cooperation towards European service provision.
EU consular offices are considered to bring significant financial and administrative savings. More-
over, it could provide a better coverage of third countries whereas the current situation is char-
acterized by an inefficient spatial clustering of EU Member States’ consulates in few places (Ber-
telsmann Stiung, 2013). The key counter-argument is that Member States have special national
interests that might not adequately be addressed by EU representations. An obvious possible
compromise could be that services of a homogenous type (travel documents, visa) are pooled
whereas diplomatic contacts continue to be provided by national teams.
European Waltz
The ‘European Waltz’ is a recent new idea proposed by the authors (Ciaglia et al., 2018). Together
with the measure described in the next section (Pensioners’ Erasmus, see below) it belongs, like
the classical Erasmus programs, to mobility-fostering approaches. It appeals to both the civic
(the EU as enabler for professional cross-border exchange) and the cultural dimension of Euro-
pean identity (contact with colleagues in other EU countries fostering a sense of communality).
Policy makers regularly see Erasmus (for students in tertiary education and vocational training)
as the model case for a successful program to foster European identity through cross-border
experiences. While participation is certainly beneficial as a personal experience, there is limited
evidence that Erasmus actually has a positive causal impact on European identity (beyond cor-
relation, see section 3 for the Erasmus impact assessment literature). The reasons are self-se-
lection biases, through which most of young and mobile citizens participate that tend to have
already a positive European attitude and oen belong to the more affluent part of society. It might
therefore be beneficial to broaden the target group.
The ‘European Waltz’ would specifically address the working population. It would support em-
ployed adults to work and live some time in another EU country. It could start with a couple of
weeks and be insightful for both the visitor and the hosting company. The idea (and the name)
builds on the journeymen in crasmanship who travel around to learn from other habits and
skills and, thereby, to improve and broaden their knowledge. Priority should be given to employ-
ment sectors and qualifications that have a domestic character and regularly lack the opportu-
nity of foreign work experience like the health sectors, the civil service, crasmanship, retail and
others (for further institutional details see Ciaglia et al., 2018). Taking part in such an exchange
would not only improve working skills, but also foster exchange (‘transnational contact’), and
getting to know other ways of life (‘cognitive mobilization’). Moreover, people would feel a direct
benefit from the EU’s attempts to facilitate working abroad (output dimension of civic identity).
The backing from the empirical identity literature summarized above for the ‘Waltz’ is obvious:
The program addresses the transnational experience and resource channel that has proven to
be important for identify formation. It is also based on a careful target group analysis. In contrast
to the students’ Erasmus program, the Waltz would not be as costly. The main challenge is to
establish the network and facilitate the placements. However, the first and easiest step could be
to align regulation to ensure an “EU leave” and related social security safeguards. Similar to the
student’s Erasmus program, this one could also be prone to self-selection. In contrast, however,
this program would not only affect the ones on the ‘Waltz’ but also their hosting company, their
European Integration Studies 2020/14
home company and their guest family. Given the practical issues remaining to be resolved, pilot
programs could be a sensible first step.
Pensioners’ Erasmus
The ‘Pensioners’ Erasmus’ is our second own proposal that, like the preceding one, is built on the
idea to enable transnational experiences for specific target groups that oen lack the resources
to do so on their own (for details see Ciaglia et al., 2018). Similar to the ‘Waltz’, it has potential
to stimulate both the civic (EU as output provider) and the cultural dimension (encounters with
fellow-pensioners) of European identity.
The program would have a financial, an administrative and an infrastructure related part. Firstly,
similar to Erasmus, the program would provide financial support for short-term journeys up
to a couple of weeks. Eligible journeys would have to fulfill certain conditions that exclude the
use of resources for normal tourist trips and prescribe true encounters with the host country
population. These conditions could be linked to certified cultural, historical, language or social
seminars or projects. In addition, pensioners who would like to engage with European pension-
ers at home, could be supported with information on funding a ‘buddy program’ to invite and
accompany pensioners from abroad.
The obvious challenge for the program are high budgetary costs, the mentioned self-selection of
‘good Europeans’ into the program, and windfall gains for affluent pensioners who love travelling.
Therefore, a means-test could be recommendable in order to concentrate the budget on the pension-
ers with resource constraints. The program could also be limited to people immediately aer pension
entry when they are still relatively open and in a phase of re-orientation. The big advantage is that the
program could reach a target group that so far has been rather neglected and that deserves special
attention given the results of the empirical identity literature summarized above (section 4).
Public holiday on Europe day 9 May
The Adonnino Report (Commission of the European Communities, 1985, p. 24) has considered to
dedicate the Europe Day 9th May commemorating the Schuman Declaration to special informa-
tion and teaching campaigns and special celebrations of the European institutions. These limited
intentions still characterize today’s practice of the Europe Day, which suffers from a low visibility
(Larat, 2019). One recent initiative from Members of European Parliament and civic groups was
to make the day a public holiday for all Member States and EU institutions (Lee, 2019).
A European public holiday would classify as European symbols like the European flag or anthem
that foster a sense of European community. Generally, days of commemoration have the func-
tion to strengthen such feelings even if there is no universal consensus on the past event. In the
course of time, commemorating activities are increasingly detached from the actual historical
event but create a collective image just because of the ritual repetition (Onken, 2007). Besides
this ‘cultural’ dimension there is also a ‘civic dimension’ insofar the EU would be perceived to
promote one common day off work to celebrate.
The strength of the European bank holiday would be its far-reaching salience through all groups
of society with a particular visibility for the active workforce. However, there are potential risks
attached, both with regard to transition and the long-run. The introduction would raise the issue
of compensating cuts in other holidays in order to avoid economic losses. Hence, there might be
social groups that would have to sacrifice on of ‘their’ holidays (e.g. the churches). An additional
particular problem is that 9th May, as the day of victory over Nazi Germany, has competing mean-
ings that could polarize at least in those countries where ‘Victory Day’ played a role in the (Soviet)
past, i.e. for the Russian minorities in the Baltic states (Onken, 2007).
European Integration Studies 2020/14
With our analysis of target groups and political legitimacy, we developed and discussed sev-
en pro-posals to strengthen European identity. Our analysis does not recommend one particu-
lar measure as the single crucial and most promising approach to foster European identity. All
measures that we have discussed are well grounded in our target group analysis and have their
particular strengths and weaknesses. The overview demonstrates the broad spectrum of potential
measures which are promising and worth further consideration. Compared to this spectrum of
action, the EU’s current approaches are rather centered on programs like Erasmus which might
be too narrow in terms of the target group, which is typically considered young, well-educated
and comparatively wealthy. This might neglect exactly those groups with the highest obstacles
to European experiences and perceptions. Accordingly, there seems to be a gap between a highly
differentiated and compre-hensive academic identity research and the narrow and ad hoc European
policy debate. This con-clusion raises questions to which extent academic European integration
research always reach their potential policy audiences.
A final clarifying note is important. A sense of European identity is helpful for any type of Europe-
an cooperation both within and outside the institutions of the European Union. Hence, programs
fos-tering European identity are to be distinguished from approaches that seek to mobilize support
for the EU and its status quo or specific integration steps. With our contribution, we explicitly do not
take sides with one particular model of European integration. Moreover, we do not think it should
be the objective of European politics let alone academic research to manipulate (‘nudge’) citizens to
become ‘better Europeans’. This would be paternalistic. Identity belongs to a person’s most pri-vate
sphere and is up to own evaluations and decisions. With some justification, Shore (2006) criti-ciz-
es an instrumental use of European identity as a non-justified elite project. However, the kind of
measures discussed in this contribution might advance European identity mainly by overcoming
biases in information and prejudices. This type of approach which is based on exchange and im-
proved information should not be seen as an undue manipulation of preferences. On the contrary,
it advances rational decision making as an essential ingredient for a stable and fruitful democratic
system and peaceful international cooperation on the European continent.
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PhD candidate
European Institute, London
School of Economics and
Political Science
Fields of interests
Economic and fiscal policy,
political economy, European
Houghton Street, London WC2A
2AE, United Kingdom
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.
Ifo Institute
Fields of interests
Economic and fiscal policy,
international taxation, European
Poschingerstraße 5, 81679
München, Germany
Phone: +49 89 92241430
Prof. Dr.
ZEW – Leibniz-Centre for
European Economic Research
Fields of interests
Fiscal policy and taxation, political
economy, European integration.
L7, 1, 68161 Mannheim, Germany
Phone: +49 621 1235149
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... Значимость обращения к актуальным проблемам Европейского союза и его новых членов, будь то государства Балканского полуострова, Балтии или Восточной Европы, также сложно переоценить. Даже с теоретических позиций обстоятельное и беспристрастное исследование европейской интеграции как «одного из главнейших итогов развития в эпоху глобализации» [там же: 250] способно обогатить академические представления о возможностях национальных политий реагировать на вызов со стороны потенциальных «мегагосударств», о траекториях формирования новой идентичности [Royuela 2019] (вопреки распространенному мнению, популярность национальной принадлежности как единственной идентичности в ЕС устойчиво снижается с 2010 г. [Ciaglia, Fuest, Heinemann 2018;Ciaglia, Fuest, Heinemann 2020]) и о противоречиях, сопровождающих процессы «тройного перехода» [Гельман 2001] отдельных стран. Более того, отечественным социальным дисциплинам, судя по современному их состоянию, предстоит предпринять еще немало усилий для того, чтобы пройти между Сциллой и Харибдой двух противоположных мифологем о Европе: первая из них связана с весьма распространенным в России оксидентализмом и упрямой обсессией ряда исследователей везде обнаруживать агентность «коллективного Запада», вторая же, напротив, воспроизводит знакомую еще с советских времен идеалистическую картину «воображаемой заграницы» [Юрчак 2014: 312]. ...
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The current world order is undergoing a profound change in its structure, in the composition of the leading participants, and in the socio-cultural discourse that buttresses the political evolution of international relations. Two factors are essential to understand this process. First, several new states, or groups of states, entered the league of the leading world powers and began to exert a significant influence over global politics. Analysts often consider these players as civilizations, in that many such states aspire to proposing an alternative spiritual, cultural, political, and even economic developmental model. Second, the West and its followers began to experience a significant civilizational transformation at the socio-political and socio-cultural levels, placing such countries at a crossroad that could determine their existential future. Contextual transformations of this magnitude must always deploy ideology to legitimize ongoing political change because ideology can question the prevailing conventions of the age to reflect fundamental shifts in society. From this point of view, the arrival of civilizations in the contemporary narrative of international relations invariably involves ideological doctrines that legitimize this process. This paper examines the emergent ideology of civilizational discourse, focusing on its central tenets, and discusses the political shifts that such an ideology seeks to justify.
BACKGROUND: The focus of the article is on the attitudes among 8th graders in European countries on future European/EU integration and cooperation. OBJECTIVE: Our objective is to investigate to what extent different background characteristics are related with students’ attitudes, opinions and expectations about sense of European identity, future of Europe (and EU), and student’s endorsement of European cooperation (where part of the scale is also variable “to reduce unemployment”). And how strong is the association between student positive expectations towards Europe and other attitudes related with Europe/EU, and is there clear divide between post-communist countries (newer democracies in Europe) and the rest? METHOD: The techniques used to analyse the data are descriptive statistics, linear and binary logistic regression, Pearson’s and Spearman’s correlation coefficients. Datasets are from last cycle of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS), N = 52,788 students. RESULTS: Results show important differences in perceptions, attitudes and expectations between students in newer and older democracies. These patterns may not always be clear and interpretable, but they show the differences across Europe. CONCLUSIONS: Future direct research are pointing on importance of having in mind that different background characteristics attributes to differences in attitudes’ developments (and that this divers among countries), as well as on very challenging decisions when considering different regions to compare results among them, at that even post-communistic countries in Europe can not always be grouped in one “block”.
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Lijphart was the first to emphasize the necessity to study the impact of student mobility upon European integration, but mobility programmes have only been studied in the last decade. The European Commission points to the ERASMUS programme as a successful example of construction of European identity; however, this assumption hasn’t yet been empirically proved on an European scale. This paper has been devoted to research of the impact of the ERASMUS programme on fostering European identity in Europe. In academic literature at least two different understandings of the European identity can be distinguished: political and cultural European identity. The quantitative survey (in which 12’173 respondents from 37 European countries took part) provides justification that only every third of students feel more European after studying abroad and that there are different understandings among ERASMUS students regarding what it means to be European. Survey results showed that ERASMUS students feel more European than non‑ERASMUS students and that the ERASMUS students understand European identity as being cultural and political.
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By the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, European policies on languages were in a situation of flux. Between roughly 1985 and 2005 there was a relatively smooth development characterized by an implicit and explicit commitment to multilingualism. More recently, however, things have appeared rather less clear cut, both internationally and in individual countries. This paper problematizes the interplay between language and identity, which although not a new issue, takes on particular significance in the mobile, interconnected world of the 21st century. Drawing on the data collected in three major surveys in 2012, it touches upon two major issues: 1) the reality of individual multilingualism in fostering the sense of community among Europeans and as a factor for European identity formation; and 2) broadening of the traditional concept of language policy – from its narrow content as language planning of the national or official language to a broader concept including a wider range of agents, types of activities, level of explicitness and concreteness of application. Is there a need to develop specific language policies “beyond the state” in regions or more commonly in multilingual cities as its natural locus? The paper argues that the essentially liberal world view of multilingualism creating mutual understanding is rather more nuanced when it comes to reflections on the impact of language on identity and on European identity in particular. It also argues for re‑scoping and re‑thinking of the European model of multilingualism.
Many integration theories predict that heightened integration in Europe will give rise to a European identity. As integration advances, so does the scholarly debate on identity. This article endeavours to contribute to the debate by investigating the relationship between European integration and European identity longitudinally in 14 countries over 21 years from 1992 to 2012. Using Eurobarometer and EU Index data, this relationship is found to be exponential with current integration levels predicting the imminent emergence of a European identity. In order to better understand whose identities are impacted or formed most by integration, the paper then turns to three intervening concepts: (1) cognitive mobilization, (2) optimism, and (3) support of the EU. All of these amplify the effect of integration on identity with the noteworthy exception of optimism. Finally, the article evaluates the implications of these findings for neofunctionalism and the literature on European identity more broadly.
Research on European identity focuses mainly on majority populations in Western European countries without differentiating among specific population groups and generations, and, above all, disregarding ethnic minority groups living in Central and Eastern Europe. This paper addresses this gap by investigating the development of European identity among three ethnic minority groups in Lithuania: Belarusians, Poles, and Russians. Theoretically, the project is based on the instrumental approach, which argues that European identity is closely related to perceived benefits from “being European,” and on the cultural approach, which holds a common history, ancestry, and culture responsible for the development of European identity. Existing research has, above all, emphasized the importance of instrumental considerations. Analyzing qualitative interviews collected in the FP7 research project “ENRI-East,” the paper compares how young and adult members of ethnic minority groups construct European identity due to “instrumental” and “cultural” considerations. The results show that both instrumental and cultural considerations are relevant and further development of European identity depends on which age group or ethnic minority group an individual belongs to.
A superordinate identity improves intergroup relations and bolsters support for the political system. Yet, why do only some identify superordinately? I argue that personality is an important determinant. I test this using an original survey in the United Kingdom, where European Union integration has increased the salience and feasibility of the “European” identity option in addition to a national one. Several Big Five traits matter: openness and extraversion increase identification with Europe while agreeableness decreases it. Mediation analysis subsequently shows that personality’s effects also travel through the mechanisms of risk aversion, knowledge, and ideology. Results imply that certain predispositions prompt some to be more receptive than others to seeing themselves in superordinate terms and that European identification may be at least partly more primordial than previously thought.