A European Identity sets limits to EU Expansion

Seminar Paper, 2009

21 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. European Identity vs. border of the EU
2.1 The border of the European Union
2.2 European Identity – „Imagined Community“

3. Influence of the religious values on the EU expansion
3.1 The religious worth within the EU
3.2 The connection between the EU and Turkey

4. Political debate for the EU-joining of Turkey
4.1 SPD
4.2 Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen
4.3 Die Linke
4.4 FDP
4.5 CDU/ CSU

5. Conclusion
5.1 What are the criteria’s about a border of the EU?
5.2 Is religion as a criterion an obstacle for the EU enlargement?

6. Bibliography:

7. Appendix

1. Introduction

The French philosopher Rémi Brague says that the European identity obtains its specific character directly and indirectly from the Christian religion, because Europe was formed through the Christianity[1]. In addition to that, Samuel Huntington utters that religion is the central size for the delimitation of the different culture rooms and serves him for the definition of the limits of Europe[2]. Nevertheless, Wolfgang Burgdorf says that the Christianity is not a reference point for an identity concept because the Islam and the Christianity contains many anti-enlightenment characteristics. Furthermore from a historical point of view, you have to consider flexible, territorial limits of Europe from which you cannot derive any territorial limit of Europe[3]. The present member countries of the EU are in a Christian tradition line. The statement, whether countries, which are in the tradition line of another world religion, cannot become a member of the EU, is normative. The fact that for example Turkey isn't a Christian country isn't a reason to itself yet not to include them in the EU, because the religious freedom of the citizens is guaranteed by the EU and the freedom to be a Muslim is just included, too. The German historian Hans Ulrich Wehler negates the statement, because from his point of view Turkey isn't a part of Europe concerning the geographical, historical, cultural and religious mentality[4]. Who decides, whether the Christian values take a role within the EU? Do the Christian values have to be taken into account if you want to define a European identity? Which criteria have to be met regarding the limits of the EU? And how does the discussion show itself at a federal political level? At first, I will discuss these questions before I work out, whether a European identity of the EU expansion sets limits.

2. European Identity vs. border of the EU

2.1 The border of the European Union

The treaty of Lisbon defines that “every European nation, which respects and supports the values mentioned in article 2…“[5] can become a memberstate of the European Union (article 2 is based on the values of the humanism, as you can see on the right). Therefore the European Union confines itself from the geographical view to the European continent, not more and not less. Europe is surrounded by oceans in the south, the west and the north; no natural border is given in the east. Consequently, no “clear regulation for applicant” is written because several geographical limits of Europe have been defined since the antiquity to this day. Is the “mountain Ural” regarded as the easternmost limit or does the European continent still extends further toward the east? Further definitions of Europe’s limits exist besides Strahlenberg’s 1730 fixed Ural-border: since 1850 Suess has stamped the concept of “Eurasian”[6] and Louis has further established the limit more east in Siberia in 1954, because population distributions, agricultural zones and vegetation zones behind the mountain Ural show agreements with Europe[7]. Broader features of the European continent are marked by Greek Roman values, Christian Jewish faith, reformation, renaissance as well as clearing up, from the cultural view[8]. Generally speaking: according to the criteria listed above, Europe exists where these or similar patterns of thought are available. The values which are manifested today in article 2 have therefore established themselves in European states early. Another criterion of today's Europe is the social and welfare model which shall guarantee social justice in and among the member states of the EU. Still the various EU members differ from each other concerning the models mentioned above[9]. Despite all features, the question is whether Europe is where you feel as a European or where the European majority forms up arises. Does the Christian faith feigns a great importance, is Europe defined by the faith and which role does the Muslim of the Balkans take in the EU? Who can decide if Russia is more European than Turkey or Albania?

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Summing up, it can be said that a European border is hardly measurable under the consideration of the facts mentioned above and a written form of Christian values isn't available in the treaty of Lisbon. Which criteria are decisive when it comes to whether Northern Ireland is more Roman Catholic than Poland or whether the Orthodox Church is less reforming as the Lutheran church? The analysis of the Christian values shows serious differences between the EU member states. Moreover, the EU cannot claim of itself to be the only holder of human rights, democracy, market economy or rule of law.

2.2 European Identity – „Imagined Community“

The European identity is the decisive component of the system of the EU and thus more important than the political and economic component. These ones form the construct of the EU, the identification of every union citizen, however, decides on the durable success with the EU[10]. An identity develops in the course of the years and is never firm and static because one interacts and communicates with neighbors daily. Moreover, collective identities form because the nature of man induces them to form up into like-minded groups.

Consequently, the community consciousness becomes a foundation of the solution of political problems[11]. Every man represents several interests and therefore belongs to several groups so that a conflict of interests can arise between different collective identities. Every union citizen can also have a European identity besides his regional and national one. If one of these three areas changes, it will have an influence on the others inevitably. Thus, the European identity is subject to a permanent change[12]. According to Weidenfeld, a common European identity consists of the three components of history (origin consciousness), the presence and the future (visions)[13]. Conformable to Lepsius[14], the European identity is ambiguous. The Europeans feel themselves a plurality of nations, languages and cultural traditions. The building of identity always presupposes an object like a person, a moral concept or an order institutionalized system. In order to achieve collective identity formations, the institutionalization of ideas of order is required. These standards or processes cause the identity formation. Correspondent to Nissen[15], a collective identity describes a specific, cognitive and affective ratio to an identification object. Moreover, it contains empathy as a base for solidarity and loyalty besides the necessary distinction of “we” and “them”. To gain European Identity people need to feel connected to Europe see it as a union. So that a national or European identity can rise up, at first a framework (nation) must be available. A nation is a construct, which includes and causes a national or supranational (European) identity. However, a nation isn't a common base due to people, common language, natural limits or long common history, but a discourse which organizes a community as a large family, a system of values and norms.

Benedict Anderson defines the nation as an “imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently and sovereign”. It is imagined “because the members of the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members meet them or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion”[16]. A nation exists when a significant number of people in a community consider or imagine themselves to form a nation. Besides, “all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined”.

According to Anderson, the "nation" shows four major qualities[17]:

- It is “introduced”, because the members of the smallest nation hardly know any others (see above). All communities, which are greater than the ones of the villages with their face-to face contacts, are introduced communities.
- It is “limited”, because a nation lives in exactly certain and variable limits. Other nations live in different and other borders. Not even the most glowing nationalist’s dream of the day when all members of the human race will belong to one nation.
- It is “sovereign”, “because the concept was born in an area where Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm”.
- It is as a “community”, because it is understood as a comradely combine of being (independent of real inequality and exploitation).

Until now, the EU was only conditionally successful at the attempt to create or to transport a European identity. Only 4 % of the European Citizens would consider themselves exclusively as European[18] and 41 % see themselves exclusively as a citizen of their respective state and not as European.


[1] Brague, Rémi (1996): p.45.

[2] Huntington, Samuel P. (2006): p.251.

[3] Burgdorf, Wolfgang (2004): p.31.

[4] Wehler, Hans-Ulrich (2002): p.9.

[5] Consolidated version of the treaty on European Union

[6] Lichtenberger, Elisabeth (2006): p. 13-15.

[7] See card 1 in the appendix.

[8] Immerfall, Stefan (2006): p. 14.

[9] Article 3 (3) of the treaty of Lisbon.

[10] Weidenfeld, Werner (2002): p.16.

[11] Weidenfeld, Werner (2002): p.16.

[12] Loth, Wilfried (2002): p.7.

[13] Weidenfeld, Werner (2002): p.17.

[14] Lepsius, Rainer M. (2004): p.3.

[15] Nissen, Sylke (2004): p.21.

[16] Anderson, Benedict (1983): p.6.

[17] Anderson, Benedict (1983): p.6/7.

[18] Eurobarometer 61, March 2004.

Excerpt out of 21 pages


A European Identity sets limits to EU Expansion
University of Marburg
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Europäische Integration, Europa
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Udo Wichmann (Author), 2009, A European Identity sets limits to EU Expansion , Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/150265


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