Identity and the Future of European integration: Crossroads or cul-de-sac?

By Kadri Kaan Renda


The European Union (EU) commenced as a project to integrate the six Western European states in economic and then political and cultural area. The economic dimension of the ambitious project has gone further than the political and cultural dimensions. In the 1970s and especially in the 1980s European politicians became aware that the aim of ‘ever closer union’ could only be achieved by constructing a cultural and political identity for the Union. The early ideas about the European identity can be found in ‘Tindemans Report’ published in the mid-1970s and ‘A People’s Europe’ released in 1985, both of which emphasized the importance of a European identity for further integration (Edwards 2000:67). Beginning with the 1990s the EU focused on the question of what kind of values that European identity should encompass. In the last decade, Europe witnessed enormous amount of events that shaped not only Europe itself and its neighbourhood but also the future of idea of Europe and the project of the EU. The collapse of the Soviet Bloc, escalation of ethnic and religious conflicts at doorstep of Europe, intensification of radical and fundamental discourses in politics, dramatic increase in the numbers of immigrants living in Europe, the tension between those immigrants and native Europeans and economic effects of globalization have challenged the European integration process not only in political and economic terms, but also in social and cultural terms.



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