Pan-European identity: Wikis


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Pan-European identity refers to the sense of personal identification with Europe. The most concrete example of pan-europeanism is the European Union (EU). 'Europe' is widely used as a synonym for the EU, as almost 500 million Europeans are EU citizens. The prefix pan implies that the identity applies throughout Europe, and especially in an EU context, 'pan-European' is often contrasted with national.

The related term Europeanism refers to the assertion that the people of Europe have a distinctive set of political, economic and social norms and values that are slowly diminishing and replacing existing national or state-based norms and values.[1]

Historically, European culture has not led to a geopolitical unit, in the way that national cultures influenced the creation of nation-states. At present, European integration co-exists with national loyalties and national patriotism.[2]

A development of European identity is regarded as a vital objective in pursuing the establishment of a politically, economically and militarily influential united Europe in the world.[3] It equally importantly supports the foundations of common European values, such as of fundamental human rights and spread of welfare.[3] It also inherently strengthens the supra-national democratic and social institutions of the European Union.[3] The concept of common European identity is viewed as rather a by-product than the main goal of the European integration process, and is actively promoted.[3] The United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries are generally the most sceptical ones about Europeanism.



A sense of European identity traditionally derives from the idea of a common European historical narrative. In turn, that is assumed to be the source of the most fundamental European values. Typically the 'common history' includes a combination of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the feudalism of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, 19th Century Liberalism, Christianity, secularism and (sometimes) negative elements such as colonialism and the World Wars. Although supporters of European integration often appeal to the 'common heritage', notably in discussions on the European Constitution, its exact nature is disputed. It does not create a uniform perspective on politics and current affairs: Europeans continue to disagree with each other, as they have done for thousands of years.

Note that the European heritage and values, in this typical form, is very similar to the supposed common history and heritage of the Western World. According to a Barometer survey in 1996, circa 51% of residents of the European Union felt to be "European".[3]

Nowadays, European identity is promoted by, among others, the European Commission, and especially their Directorate-General for Education and Culture. They promote this identity and ideology through funding of educational exchange programmes, the renovation of key historical sites, the promulgation of a progressive linear history of Europe terminating in European integration, and through the promotion and encouragement of political integration.

Popular culture

The common cultural heritage is commonly seen in terms of high culture. Examples of a contemporary pan-European culture are limited to some forms of popular culture:

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the oldest identifiably 'pan-European' elements in popular culture,[4] attracting a huge audience (hundreds of millions) and extensive media coverage each year, with the higher-scoring songs often making an impact in national singles charts. The contest is not run by the EU, but by the entirely separate European Broadcasting Union, and in fact it pre-dates the European Economic Community. It is also open to some non-European countries which are members of the EBU. Some eastern European politicians occasionally take the contest more seriously, seeing the participation of their country as a sign of 'belonging to Europe', and some even going so far to say to consider it a preliminary step to accession to the EU.[5]

Deliberate attempts to use popular culture to promote identification with the EU have been controversial. In 1997, the European Commission distributed a comic strip titled The Raspberry Ice Cream War, aimed at children in schools. The EU office in London declined to distribute this in the UK, due to an expected unsympathetic reception for such views.[6][7]


Europe wins 2004 Ryder Cup

Almost all sport in Europe is organised on either a national or sub-national basis. 'European teams' are rare, one example being the Ryder Cup, a Europe vs. United States golf tournament. There have been proposals to create a European Olympic Team, which would break with the existing organisation through National Olympic Committees.[8] Former European Commission President Romano Prodi suggested that EU teams should carry the EU flag, alongside the national flag, at the 2008 Summer Olympics — a proposal which angered eurosceptics.[9][10] According to Eurobarometer surveys, only 5% of respondents think that a European Olympic team would make them feel more of a 'European citizen'.[11]

National teams participate in international competitions, organised by international sport federations, which often have a European section. That results in a hierarchic system of sporting events: national, European, and global. In some cases, the competition has a more 'pan-European' character. Football - Europe's most popular sport - is organised globally by the FIFA, and in Europe by the UEFA. Alongside the traditional national/international organisation, direct competition between major teams at pan-European level has become more important. (High national ranking is necessary to enter the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup). Super-clubs such as Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester United, FC Barcelona, Arsenal FC, FC Bayern, Juventus FC, AC Milan and Real Madrid are known all over Europe, and are seen as each others competitors, in UEFA's European tournaments. (Major clubs are now large businesses in themselves, and have expanded beyond the national sponsoring market).


The European continent does not have any universally recognized pan-European symbols, yet the European Union and the Council of Europe provides Europe as such with the basic symbols that most nation-states bear. Such symbols are:

  • A flag, the European flag - a symbol for most of Europe, being sponsored by the Council of Europe (and subsequently adopted by the EU),
  • An anthem, Ode to Joy - as for the flag, this is a symbol for all Council of Europe members and also all EU member states,
  • A "national day", Europe day (9 May) - as for the flag and the anthem,
  • A single currency, the euro - the euro has been adopted by some countries outside of the EU, but not by all EU member states in the bloc. Currently, 16 of 27 member states have adopted the Euro as their official currency.
  • Other: Erasmus academic scheme, European registration numbers, separate EU corridor at airports[3]

The .eu domain name extension was introduced in 2005 as a new symbol of European Union identity on the world wide web. The .eu domain's introduction campaign specifically uses the tagline "Your European Identity" . Registrants must be located within the European Union.

Notable Europeanists

Europeanist Political Parties

See also

Compare: Britishness, Canadian identity


  1. ^ John McCormick, Europeanism (Oxford University Press, 2010)
  2. ^ "The supranational prospect held out by the EU appears to be threatened.... by a deficiency of European identity, in striking contrast to the continuing vigour of national identities, ...." Anne-Marie Thiesse. Inventing national identity. [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e f European identity: construct, fact and fiction Dirk Jacobs and Robert Maier Utrecht University [2]
  4. ^ "Eurovision is something of a cultural rite in Europe."
  5. ^ "We are no longer knocking at Europe’s door," declared the Estonian Prime Minister after his country’s victory in 2001. "We are walking through it singing... The Turks saw their win in 2003 as a harbinger of entry into the EU, and after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, tonight’s competition is a powerful symbol of Viktor Yushchenko’s pro-European inclinations." Oj, oj, oj! It's Europe in harmony. The Times, May 21, 2005. ""This contest is a serious step for Ukraine towards the EU," Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Tomenko said at the official opening of the competition." BBC, Ukrainian hosts' high hopes for Eurovision [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ "European Olympic Team". Retrieved 2006-02-07.  
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Eurobarometer 251, p 45, [6].

External links



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