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1.8.1 What happens next?

The next ten years are likely to be momentous for the history of Europe. However, in the same way that no social scientist was able to predict the collapse of the Soviet order, it is pointless to speculate on possible but improbable scenarios. At this point it is only possible to project toward the future on the basis of the existing parameters; the more accurate and detailed our knowledge of the present trends is, the more likely our forecasts are to have some success.

Europe is at a c
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1.7.2 Summary

  • The EU is an economic, juridical and, to a certain extent, a political reality but a single European public space has not emerged yet.

  • The establishment of European citizenship could play a crucial part in fostering a common European public space.

  • European citizenship could encourage Europeans to play a more active role in EU affairs and participate in governance processes.

1.7.1 European citizenship

The EU is an economic, juridical and, to an extent, political reality. But is it a public space in the sense of an arena in which groups and individuals vigorously exchange symbolic messages of different types? It would appear as if, while the public of most EU countries are willing to accept ever closer economic union (including a common currency and even political convergence), when it comes to historical memories, social organisation and cultural ideas (including religion), they are mostly
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1.4.3 Summary

  • The process toward European unification was initiated by top political elites in France, Italy, Germany and the Benelux countries after the Second World War.

  • New collective actors are progressively being engaged in European affairs, among them the Labour movement, regional movements and new social movements such as the environmentalism of groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

  • European elites, although engaged in a con
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1.4.1 Historical background

European unification was begun by the social democratic and Christian democratic leaders of the Western European states who had fought each other during the Second World War. The idea was to create a community of states that would guarantee peace and prosperity. The process turned out to be long and arduous, particularly after the federalist failures of the Congress of the Hague (1949) and the European Defence Community (1953). The main emphasis was on economic co-operation, and the project w
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1.3.2 Summary

  • The shifting character of European geographical boundaries is illustrated by Turkey and the other twelve countries from Central and Eastern Europe which are currently negotiating access to the EU.

  • The boundaries of Europe change depending on whether Europe is defined in terms of institutional structures, historical geography or observed patterns of social, economic and political interaction.

1.3.1 Europe and the EU

Is there a Europe beyond the EU? This is a question that becomes more and more difficult to answer. It is quite common for example to hear of such or such a country wishing to ‘join Europe’, when what is meant is that they wish to apply to join the EU.

The criteria for joining the EU were laid down in the summit of Copenhagen, 21 and 22 June 1993. Candidates must have reached an institutional stability that guarantees democracy, legality, human rights, and the respect and prote
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1.2.2 Summary

  • The results of successive editions of the Eurobarometer show that in most EU countries only a very small percentage of people, around 5 per cent, declare having an exclusive European identity, while up to 50 per cent do not have any sense of European identity.

  • European political identity is weak and there is a great variation across states.

1 1 Who are Europeans?

When I went to Loughborough for the first time I was pleasantly surprised as a social scientist to see that the town was twinned with Épinal, the French town where the founder of modern sociology, Émile Durkheim, was born. In fact, as you enter any major English town you are likely to see sooner or later a plaque indicating that the town is twinned with another European town. But what is the meaning of this practice?

After the Second World War, which pitched European state aga
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Introduction

The problem of who, or what, are ‘Europeans’ is at the centre of many of the most acute political and social issues confronting contemporary Europe. Can a genuine European identity be constructed within Europe, and if so on what basis? This question is of even greater importance as the European Union expands and becomes ever more multicultural in character. This unit examines the ways in which European identities are – or are not – being forged across Europe. It assesses the var
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References

Amin, A. (1999) ‘An institutional perspective on regional economic development’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.23, no.2, pp.365–78.
Anderson, J. (1995) ‘The exaggerated death of the nation state’ in Anderson, J., Brook, C. and Cochrane, A. (eds) A Global World? Re-ordering Political Space, Oxford, Oxford University Press/The Open University.

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