Building New Identities? Debating
Fundamental Rights in European Institutions
Jeffrey T. Checkel
ARENA, University of Oslo
This paper seeks to develop plausible hypotheses
linking specific European institutions to changes in
agent identity. My concern is to explore the pathways and
mechanisms through which such shifts occur. The approach
is largely inductive; however, my data collection and
analysis are informed by several theoretical hunches on
the nature of social interaction within institutions. It
is also micro-, process- and agency-based. Specifically,
I examine patterns of social interaction within
committees of the Council of Europe, the main European
rights institution. My interest is whether the identities
of social agents changed/multiplied as they discussed and
debated issues in these committees. That is, did the
basic values and attitudes and, perhaps, identities of
these actors change as a result of interaction within
This paper seeks to develop plausible hypotheses
linking specific European institutions to changes in
agent identity. My concern is to explore the pathways and
mechanisms through which such shifts occur. The approach
is largely inductive; however, my data collection and
analysis are informed by several theoretical hunches on
the nature of social interaction within institutions, to
which I return at the essay's end.
For two reasons, my focus here is micro-, process- and
agency-based. First, much of the literature downplays or
brackets such dynamics and, instead, offers
macro-historical or macro-sociological arguments on the
identity-shaping influence of European institutions. Unfortunately, like most macro-arguments,
these studies assert correlations that fail to specify
the causal pathways connecting European institutions to
identity change. 
Second, even when Europeanists do adopt a
process-oriented perspective on the relation between
institutions and agent identity, they often advance an
incomplete contact thesis to explain the causal relation.
That is, identity change is a function of time. The
longer agents participate in a particular institutional
setting -- say, the European Commission -- the more
likely a multiplication of identities becomes. Put
differently, it is contact -- the rubbing of elbows -- that explains shifts in
identity. For sure, this is part of the story. Prolonged
exposure and communication can indeed promote a greater
sense of we-ness and a possible multiplication of
identities, as a robust experimental literature suggests.
Yet, by itself, such a thesis is underspecified. For
example, it does not control for the possibility that
individuals, the longer they reside in a particular
institutional setting, can learn how to decouple from it.
Moreover, it is arguably the quality of the contact --
hectoring? deliberation? hard-headed bargaining? -- and
not simply its length that plays the central role in promoting identity shifts. Even the best
of the more recent literature fails to address such
These gaps in the literature lead me to a narrow focus
and set of research questions in the current paper.
Specifically, I examine patterns of social interaction
within committees of the Council of Europe (CE), the main
European rights institution: the Committee of Experts on
Nationality and the Committee of Experts on National
Minorities. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, both
these bodies dealt with fundamental identity issues,
including the nature of nationality
and group rights for national minorities. In this paper,
I consider only the Committee of Experts on Nationality. 
My interest is whether the identities of social agents
changed/multiplied as they discussed and debated issues
in the latter Committee. Specifically, did agent
identities change as a result of interaction? Equally
important, how is one to characterize these exchanges? As
a game where the bigger and more powerful states coerced
the weaker? As hard-headed diplomatic negotiations? As
persuasion/deliberation? Or simply as copying/emulation?
From a methodological perspective, how would I know
such attitudinal and identity change if I saw it? My
answer here is to employ a process-tracing technique and
utilize three data streams. I start by examining the
public record, which meant studying successive drafts of
the nationality treaty on which the Committee was
working. Particularly helpful was the official explanatory report attached to the
various drafts. In addition, I exploit the private record
-- that is, confidential summaries of all the Committee's
sessions. Finally, interviews are conducted with various
Committee members. 
Before proceeding, two comments are in order. First,
my micro-focus inevitably looses the big picture -- that
is, how Europeanization and European institutions may be
transforming national collective identities. However,
given the gaps in the existing literature, this essay
should be seen as providing building blocks for more
sweeping, macro-arguments on identity change in Europe. In addition, elsewhere, I
supplement the emphasis here by exploring how social
interaction in Strasbourg and the norms it generates
affect the politics of identity in several European
Second, this is an exploratory first cut at the data.
My goal is to push it as far as possible in
reconstructing the patterns of social interaction and
possible identity shifts within these Council committees.
This will then alert me to those elements of the story
where additional field work and data collection are
Building New Identities in Strasbourg?
The current section has three parts. I begin with a
brief description of the pan-European norms that have
resulted from social interaction within specific
institutions. That is, I suggest interaction of this sort
has the potential to shape identity politics in the
broader pan-Europe. Then, I back the analysis up several
steps, first describing the institutional structure of
the Council of Europe, and then exploring the social
interaction within its committees.
Nationality and Citizenship Beyond the Nation
State. Be it in Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow
or Kyiv, nationality and citizenship practice have
entered a period of turbulent change. Such shifts have
been driven not just by domestic political dynamics, but
by external factors as well. In
particular, European regional organizations have begun to
address these issues in some detail, promoting new forms
of citizenship (the European Union's [EU] "European
citizenship"), revised understandings of nationality
and citizenship (Council of Europe work on dual
nationality) and new conceptions of the group and
cultural rights of national and ethnic minorities (work
by the Council as well as the High Commissioner for
National Minorities of the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe [OSCE]). 
For reasons of space limitations and data
requirements, I consider here only work by the Council of
Europe. Over the past decade, it has promoted more
inclusive nationality, citizenship and
membership norms. After a negotiation process that
involved elements of inter-state bargaining and
supra-national deliberation, these norms have now been
promulgated in two international legal instruments: a
Framework Convention on National Minorities; and a
European Convention on Nationality. 
If European states were to comply with these
instruments and the norms they promote, what kinds of
policies and practices would follow? Most generally, one
would see a move toward more pluralist and complex
conceptions of national identity, with the latter no
longer neatly co-terminus with state borders.
Specifically, action consistent with these regional
prescriptions would include, inter alia, greater
tolerance for the cultural rights of minorities
(especially in the linguistic and educational realms),
more standardized procedures for speeding the process of immigrant integration, and greater
tolerance of dual nationality. When and if enacted, such
changes would have the potential to alter social
identities by reshaping the boundaries of in- and
out-groups within European states, and by adding a
supra-state dimension to those core identity markers of
nationality and citizenship. 
While studying national-level identity changes of this
sort is important in its own right, my goal is to explore
a logically prior issue. That is, how Europeanization --
in my case, social interaction within specific European
institutions -- creates the norms that make such change
possible in the first place.
The Council of Europe and Its Committee System.
In the panoply of European regional institutions, the
Council occupies a unique position. It is more than an
intergovernmental organization (IGO), yet does not
possess the far-reaching supranational features of an
institution like the European Union. On the one hand, its
formal structure resembles that of a standard IGO. The CE
is run by a Committee of Ministers (the foreign ministers
of its member states), to which its international
Secretariat is subordinate.
On the other, its committee system and judicial branch
-- the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) -- have
acquired clear elements of supranationalism over the past
half century. In part, these supranational features have
developed through formal and legal procedures -- for
example, the ECHR's binding rulings with which states
must comply, or its extensive body of case law, much of
which has been incorporated into national legislation.
However, equally important are the informal practices
that have developed over the years in both the Court and
within the committee system. Judges and committee experts
often see themselves as part of social
networks that are both European and national in
orientation. In this sense, the Council might thus be
viewed as an international institution possibly promoting
"the construction of overarching common identity
among the participating sub-groups." 
Specifically on the committees, the Council has a
number of such bodies. Some are standing committees that
have existed for many years. Others are more ad-hoc,
being established when the CE is developing new norms and
policy in a particular area. It is the latter -- often
called "committees of experts" -- that concern
me here. Such ad-hoc groups are formally under the
Committee of Ministers, the intergovernmental body that
sits atop the Council's decisionmaking hierarchy.
However, in reality, they enjoy significant independence
from the ministers. The latter (or
their deputies) meet one to two times a month, and their
agenda is usually crowded with issues more pressing than
detailed oversight of an expert committee. 
In this paper, I examine the Committee of Experts on
Nationality. This body was established and given its
terms of reference in June 1992. Between that date and
late 1997, when a new European Convention on Nationality
was formally adopted by the CE's Committee of Ministers,
it met 17 times. All meetings were held at the Council's
headquarters in Strasbourg, with a typical session
lasting 2-3 days. In principle, each CE member state had
a right to send a representative to these sessions;
however, some states did not, while others sent more than
one. In addition, the CE Secretariat was represented by
three to four individuals. Thus, when the full Committee
met, its size could range from 25 to 35 people. However,
many of its substantive debates and discussions played
out in a smaller "Working Party," composed of
Representatives on the Committee wore at least two
hats -- as national officials and as experts (recall the
formal title of Committee of Experts on
Nationality). Indeed, in the Committee's own --
confidential -- self assessment, it was "the only
European intergovernmental committee composed of
specialists in this matter [nationality]." This
meant that many members had legal training or
administrative experience in international private law,
citizenship policy or nationality. A
central concern of mine is whether social dynamics within
the Committee activated the role/identity dilemmas
inherent in the existence of these multiple hats. 
The basic task of the Committee was to revisit the
understandings of nationality and citizenship promulgated
in an earlier, 1963, Council treaty. Specifically on the
question of multiple nationality, this earlier treaty had
taken an explicitly negative view: It was something to be
prevented. The treaty thus privileged
a unitary conception of state identity and nationality.
Indeed, from the vantage point of the state, the
possibility of dual nationality was bad news,
complicating loyalties and identities. 
Given the identity-shaping implications of such issues
and given an institutional structure within the Committee
that potentially facilitated a multiplication and nesting
of identities, my interest is whether and how --
through what process of social interaction -- the
latter occurred. The following
narrative addresses this question. 
Social Interaction and Identity
Change/Multiplication? My analysis of the
Committee's deliberations is divided in three parts:
Substantive Issues; Procedures; and Outcomes.
Substantive Issues. From its earliest meetings during
1993, several themes and tensions emerged that would mark
the Committee's work for the next four years. One major
issue was the need to reconceptualize the foundational
category of nationality. In this regard, a key question
was "the problem of multiple nationality [that]
concerned all European states." Recognizing that
much had changed since the 1963 CE treaty, the Committee
hoped to rethink European norms on
This theme also appeared to activate role/identity
conflict within the Committee. Indeed, whether one
reviews the confidential meeting summaries or interviews
participants, a real tension is evident. On the one hand,
there is a stress on the Committee's responsibility to
view multiple nationality from a
European perspective. At the same time, some members felt
a strong need to protect national conceptions of
nationality/identity, focused on "the principle of a
single nationality," from these broader conceptions.
Multiple nationality, and how the new convention
should treat it, generated ongoing and extensive
discussions within the Committee. Two positions quickly
became evident, and reflected the role/identity conflict
inherent in the issue. On the one hand, a number of
representatives felt a new European understanding, one
which recognized the principle of dual nationality,
was necessary. They argued that nationality was a
fundamental human right and should be codified in
European law and norms. Put differently, nationality --
with all its identity connotations -- should "no
longer exclusively [be] a privilege granted by the
Others, asserting state prerogatives, argued strongly
against this perspective. States alone should have the
right to define their own understanding of nationality.
While this was a minority view, it was nonetheless a
strongly held one. This clash of a more European and
multi-layered understanding of identity with a national
and singular one inevitably lead to a compromise
position within the Committee. While the new convention
would remove the prohibitionary norm against multiple
nationality and promote prescriptive European nationality
understandings, it would not unambiguously endorse the
latter principles. 
The clash over this question was so deeply felt that
it produced one of the few episodes where Committee
sessions degenerated into hard-headed bargaining. Indeed,
one representative went so far as to boycott several
meetings and issue thinly-veiled threats that his/her
country might withhold its national contributions from
the Council. Deliberation over the basic merits of the
issue proved difficult in such an atmosphere. 
Instead, on the issue of multiple nationality, one
gets a strong sense of Committee participants jockeying
for position as competing identity/nationality
conceptions were advocated. At one meeting in the fall of
1994, members advanced contrasting views on the
implications of multiple nationality for individual
identity. Those favoring the principle noted how it would
restructure dominant conceptions of in-groups and
out-groups within states, thus facilitating the integration of permanent residents.
Those against argued that a granting of multiple
nationality would dilute the "close and genuine
links" between an individual and his/her country.
Given these clashing views, the Committee chair felt it
wise to reiterate that the "draft convention was
neutral on the issue of multiple nationality." 
Despite these formal avowals of neutrality, the
question of multiple nationality and its implications for
identity were in no sense strickened from the Committee's
deliberations. This was seen in several ways. First, the
group as a whole continued to reiterate that the draft
convention should in no way be viewed as prohibiting
multiple nationality (as had the 1963 treaty).
Rather, states who "so wished were free to allow
other cases of multiple nationality." Such a stance
simply "reflected developments in this field that
have taken place in a number of states since the 1963
Second, over time, the Committee devoted increasing
attention to standardizing national rules regarding the
acquisition of nationality. There was a great concern to
remove the element of administrative discretion and
opacity that governed the naturalization procedures in
all too many European states. This
standardization -- for example, stipulating a maximum
period of residence that could be required for
naturalization (15 years; 10 years in later drafts) --
would greatly facilitate the integration and acquisition
of nationality by resident foreigners and immigrants. 
The connection here to multiple nationality was
indirect, but nonetheless well known to Committee
members. Despite the formal prohibition against it in the
1963 convention, the number of dual nationals was
skyrocketing in Europe by the early 1990s. This occurred
as resident foreigners naturalized and acquired the
nationality of their new home state, while still managing
to keep their original nationality through various
backdoor means. This was especially the case for Turks in
Germany. Despite the country's explicit prohibition on
multiple nationality, the number of Turks with both
German and Turkish passes was growing steadily. Thus, the
new convention, by facilitating naturalization would keep
the issue of multiple nationality in the spotlight -- for
those individuals directly affected and for the broader
public as well. Conventional identity
markers and in/out groups would continue to be
Procedures. Procedurally, the Committee quickly moved
during 1993 to establish a sub-group of the full body --
the so-called Working Party (WP) -- where the real
debates and discussions would take
place. The WP consisted of seven individuals, several of
whom were well-respected by other Committee members for
their authority on matters of nationality and for their
persuasive powers. 
A second procedural innovation was to establish
mechanisms whereby novices on the Committee -- typically,
representatives from new CE member states in East Europe
and the former USSR with little background or knowledge
on nationality -- could be brought up to speed, as it
were. Here, the emphasis was less on lecturing and more
on informal discussions held outside
normal Committee sessions. Indeed, the goal seemed to be
to teach these participants how to think about
nationality in broader pan-European terms. 
More generally, Committee deliberations, despite the
contention over various issues, were more than a zero-sum
diplomatic bargaining game among actors with fixed views
and interests. Recall that these individuals wore two
hats -- as state representatives and as experts on
nationality and citizenship. The latter, specialized role
led them in a more deliberative direction. Indeed, at
several points during its discussions, the Committee
self-consciously noted that it was more than a bargaining
forum where the lowest common denominator would prevail.
For example, at a meeting in late 1995, the
"Committee agreed that the final text [of the new
nationality convention] should not be a compendium of the
various nationality laws of all the participating
countries but rather a European standard in the
field." Earlier the group had spoken in a similar
fashion, arguing in favor of a European vision and norms
on nationality. This invocation of
normative language in private settings where there was no
incentive to play to the broader public, along with the
expertise of many members, insured that something beyond
strategic exchange among egoistic actors occurred as the
Committee deliberated. 
However, what exactly was the nature of this social
interaction within the Committee? In addressing this
issue, it is important not to think in either/or terms.
Consider again the four social mechanisms identified in
the introduction: coercion, diplomatic bargaining,
persuasion/deliberation, and copying/emulation. With the
one exception where a delegate implied that his/her
country might withhold funds from the Council, overt
efforts at, or threats of, coercion were completely
absent. This is hardly surprising: Such language and
dynamics are rare in more technical/expert settings.
On bargaining, I have already noted one instance where
it occurred during the discussions. By bargaining, let me
be clear what is meant. These were instances where agents
appeared to be enacting given identities and interests,
and trying to advance them in a game of give and take.
Such dynamics were clearly dominant in only one phase of
the Committee's deliberations: the political end-game
discussions in late 1995 and 1996, where it sought to
finalize the text for the new
nationality convention. Put differently, one might argue
that a politicization of the group's sessions
promoted this shift to a bargaining game. 
Copying and emulation were a relevant dynamic for one
particular sub-group of the Committee: representatives
from the new Council member states of East Europe and the
former USSR. Especially during early phases of the
Committee's discussions (that is, before the end game
discussed above), delegates from new members were mainly
in a "receiving" mode, quietly listening
to the debates. They seemed content to emulate good
nationality practice, as defined by the Committee. 
While at first glance this mode of social interaction
might seem surprising, it makes sense given the
background of the representatives from newer member
states. In many cases, these individuals had little or no
experience in matters of nationality -- either because
they came from new states (Ukraine, say) or from
countries that had recently undergone massive personnel
turnovers due to the revolutions of 1989 (Czech Republic,
for example). They were thus novices facing a new and
uncertain environment. In such instances, emulation can
simply be an economic way of reducing
uncertainty in one's environment. If indeed these newer
members were emulating, then such action on their part
made for a good match with the teaching/pedagogic
approach stressed by the Committee during its early
Finally, one has persuasion and argumentation. They
played an important role in shaping the group's dynamics,
but only in certain contexts and at specific times. On
the former, smallness mattered. That is, persuasion and
principled debate -- "this is what a good
nationality principle would look like and why";
"multiple nationality promotes integration because
..."; etc -- occurred more in the Working
Party (maximum of 10 members) than in the Committee as a whole (up to 35 members). As for times,
persuasion played its greatest role in that period before
the end-game bargaining. 
Within these contextual and temporal limits, four
additional factors were key in promoting persuasion and
deliberation. First, Committee members shared a largely
common educational and professional background, being
trained as lawyers who had for many years dealt with
issues of immigration and nationality. Second, the group
was meeting at a time when there was a growing sense of
policy failure: The number of dual nationals was climbing
rapidly despite the existing prohibition. Third, the
early pursuit of an arguing game, as opposed to a
bargaining one, was greatly facilitated by the Committee
and Working Party's insulation from publicity and overt
political pressure. Indeed, they benefited from the
public perception of Strasbourg as a quiet backwater --
with the real action occurring in Brussels (the European
Union's provisions for a European citizenship). This
allowed them to meet and work out revised understandings
on nationality/citizenship prior to any overt
politicization of their work.
Fourth, perhaps most important, several Committee and
Working Party members -- notably, the Swiss, Italian and
Austrian representatives -- were not only highly
respected by other group participants,
but also renowned for their powers of persuasion. Three
different interviewees, with no prodding, identified
these same individuals as playing central roles in
"changing people's minds" -- not through arm
twisting, but by the power of arguments. 
Comments of this sort were especially directed toward
the Austrian expert, Ulrich Hack. For example, at a
confidential meeting of the Council's full Committee of
Ministers in May 1997 where a draft of the new
nationality convention was considered, one representative
from the Committee of Experts on
Nationality praised Hack's efforts in such terms. This
individual argued that Hack belonged "to the
'spiritual fathers' of this Convention and whose support
also helped me during [our] negotiations and
At the same time, not all Committee members were open
to persuasion or the power of principled arguments.
Indeed, one national representative held deeply
in-grained beliefs that were opposed to arguments
favoring a relaxation of prohibitions on dual
nationality. There is no evidence that persuasive appeals
altered his/her basic values or identity -- despite
his/her participation in the Working Party, where such
dynamics were most evident. Even after sustained social
interaction over some 34 days spread across nearly four
years, this individual continued to view nationality very
much with state-based -- as opposed to European --
identity markers. He/she profoundly disagreed with any
"philosophy" that promoted a European
understanding of nationality -- for example, that
"multiple nationality was acceptable in Europe." Put differently, Europe
had no right to redefine the relevant boundaries of
nationality and, thus, national identity in his/her
Outcomes. Two outcomes need to be considered -- one
normative, and one identitive. On the former, there is
clear evidence that social dynamics within the Committee
contributed to the emergence of new European standards
and understandings. To appreciate this, one only need
conduct a before and after comparison. At time = 0 (1993,
when the Committee began its work), European norms on
nationality were defined by the 1963 CE treaty. This
convention in fact embodied little in the way of
positive, prescriptive guidance on nationality. Instead,
its defining feature was a strong, negative
prohibitionary norm against a particular type of nationality: multiple nationality. As
the Committee chair correctly noted, this earlier treaty
"embodied a maximalist position on the issue of the
avoidance of multiple nationality." 
The picture looks different by time = 4 -- that is,
1997, when the new European Convention on Nationality
drafted by the Committee was opened for signing. The new
treaty sets minimum European procedural standards
regarding the acquisition and loss of nationality, and,
more important, begins to articulate a substantive vision
of what nationality should look like in post-Cold
War Europe. The words of the Italian Committee member and
expert best capture this tentative, prescriptive
understanding: "Whereas the underlying philosophy of
the 1963 Convention was that multiple nationality should
be avoided, Article 14 of the new Convention embodied the
philosophy that multiple nationality was acceptable in
Europe but need not necessarily be accepted by all States
Put differently, the stark internal/external
demarcation, where nationality and national identity are
largely co-terminus with a state's borders, is eroding in
contemporary Europe. For sure, it is not being replaced
wholesale; rather, concepts such as multiple nationality,
by blurring such demarcations, will
likely promote a further nesting and multiplication of
identities. To the extent that European institutions such
as the Council contribute to this process, one can indeed
speak of a process where Europeanization is reshaping
national identities. 
Having said this, I still need to address the second,
identitive outcome. Did the identities of actors within
the CE Committee change or multiply over this four-year
period? Did debating and arguing about European
nationality, with all its attendant identity
connotations, lead Committee members to ascribe a
European identity to themselves? To answer this question
correctly, two points must be kept in mind. First, the
baseline is crucial here. Many of the Committee's experts
and bureaucrats felt themselves to be part of a
transnational Euro elite before the group began its work.
That is, they were already carrying multiple and nested European/national identities at "t
= 0" -- a fact my interviews confirm. Not
controlling for this element of selective recruitment and
pre-socialization led to serious methodological problems
in early neo-functionalist work on European identity
Second, identity change and multiplication is not a
zero-sum game. That is, a greater sense of Europeanness
among Committee members would not necessarily come at the
expense of their French, Latvian or whatever identities.
Research in many other contexts has shown that
individuals can successfully manage multiple identities.
Thus, the real question for me is the degree
of change/multiplication among individual members of the
Committee. Relatedly, is there was change of this sort,
what social mechanisms and dynamics drove it? 
My answer, not surprisingly, is a mixed one. For some
individuals, there is no evidence of a change or
multiplication in identities. The one national
representative discussed above is my best example. This
individual left the interaction context -- the
Committee's deliberations -- as he/she entered it.
Neither the quantity (number of meetings) or quality
(deliberation, bargaining, etc) of the institutional
interaction had any causal impact on his/her identity.
For members of the Working Party, there is stronger
evidence of an enhanced multiplication of identities. My
evidence here is two fold. For one, there is the
confidential documentary record. This demonstrates that,
as the WP grappled and argued about nationality, a shared
understanding emerged that European norms needed to
encompass something more than the traditional view of
nationality as tied to a single, territorially demarcated
state. Hence, the Group's willingness to consider
multiple nationality. More important, interviews suggest
that for some WP members this
"complexification" of nationality gave them a
greater sense of Europeanness. However, the degree of
change/multiplication in identities should not be overstated: The WP contained several of
the Committee members who were already the most
Finally, one has the group of novices and emulators --
that is, those who for the most part sat and
listened as the Committee deliberated. While I have not
yet been able to interview any of them, research in other
contexts suggests that such novices may be especially
open to basic attitudinal/identity change. 
The complex empirical story presented above suggests
we need a nuanced theoretical toolkit to develop
hypotheses linking institutions -- in Europe or elsewhere
-- to possible changes in agent
identity. Below, I suggest one way to construct such
analytic frameworks. However, I first reconsider several
of the research questions guiding this project. 
Institutions and Identity Change.
When conceptualizing the causal linkages between
institutions and identity, my empirical analysis suggests
that process trumps structure, or at least should be on a
par with it. That is, it is less the formal structure of
institutions than what occurs
withinthem that shapes agent identity. For sure, formal
structure matters -- as a starting point. We want to know
whether we are dealing with a (largely) supranational
polity builder such as the EU, or an entity like the
Council, which is something along the lines of an
"IGO plus." 
If one goes this process route, however, a problem
immediately arises. We have weakly developed analytic
tools for theorizing what goes on within international
institutions. International relations (IR) theory, until
recently, has been of little help on this score. One
faced an unsatisfactory choice between neo-liberal
institutionalism, which erected a black box around the
internal workings of institutions, and mainstream
constructivism, whose largely structural ontology
led to a neglect of institutions as active agents in
their own right. The EU literature has been of even less
help. While it offers much self-styled institutional
analysis, there has been relatively little attention to
theoretical and, especially, methodological issues. 
Movement in this process direction should also help us
explore more systematically how and how deeply European
institutions affect agent identity. As I have suggested
throughout this essay, the causal impact of institutions
is likely to be less a function of quantity (how long the
process plays out) than of quality (what kind of
process). For the latter, the key question is what social
dynamics within institutions are more likely to lead to
basic attitudinal/identity change at
the agent level. The theoretical challenge, then, is to
make fundamental agent properties endogenous to social
processes with institutions. 
Theorizing Social Interaction. In a
larger project, I address this challenge by theorizing
interaction within European institutions as dynamic
processes of persuasion, argumentation and social
learning. Why these processes and not others (strategic
exchange, coercion, etc)? My reasoning is fairly
pragmatic. On the on hand, there has been a neglect of
such mechanisms among mainstream
theorists, especially within the IR sub-field. More
important, there is a growing, robust and increasingly
sophisticated literature suggesting that such mechanisms
play a major role in reshaping core agent properties and
identities within institutions. 
For theoretical insights, I have turned to work in
communications research and social psychology. This has
allowed me to develop testable hypotheses and scope
conditions for when persuasive agents embedded in
European institutions are more or less likely to affect
the basic values and identities of individuals through
processes of social communication. For sure, this is only
one small part of the larger politics of identity in
contemporary Europe. However, it allows me to address
more systematically topics that have been fiercely
debated by Europeanists for years -- say, the conditions
under which national officials "go native"
within European institutions. The
approach also fills a decisionmaking- and agency-gap in
constructivist studies of international institutions. 
Let me provide a few examples, which reinterpret the
above empirics in light of theoretical propositions drawn
from the larger project. For one, my hypotheses suggest
that persuasion is more likely to be effective in
changing attitudes when the persuadee has few prior,
ingrained beliefs that are inconsistent with the
persuader's message. Put differently, agents with few
cognitive priors who are novices will be more open to
persuasion. Returning to the case study, this helps
explain why the one national representative was so
resistant to attitudinal/identity change. He came from a
national context where beliefs about the unique and
state-bounded nature of nationality were
institutionalized and thus politically salient. These
cognitive priors lessened the possibility of any identity
change or multiplication on his part. Likewise, it is the
absence of such priors among the many novices in the
Committee (the new CE members from East Europe and the
former USSR) that make it highly probable their emulation
will eventually lead to more basic attitudinal shifts.
The literature also indicates that persuasion is more
likely to be effective in promoting change in basic agent
properties when the persuader does not lecture or demand,
but, instead, acts out principles of serious deliberative
argument. In retrospect, this explains both why the
Swiss, Austrian and Italian representatives were so
effective in "changing people's minds," and why
I detected the most multiplication/changing of identities
within the Committee's Working Party, where these three
individuals played central roles.
Finally, one can deduce from this literature that
persuasion is more likely to be effective when the
persuader-persuadee interaction occurs in less
politicized and more insulated, in-camera settings. This
proposition explains why the greatest degree of identity
change/multiplication occurred early in the Committee's
deliberations, before the politicized end game bargaining
I recognize that these propositions are only a start,
and need further specification and testing. Yet, they do
capture and help model a seemingly ubiquitous feature of
life in contemporary Europe: the ongoing, daily social
interaction within institutions that Europeans at all
levels experience. If we wish to understand better both
the nature of this interaction and under what conditions
it may be transformative of agent identities, then a move
in the process- and agency-based direction sketched here
would seem essential.
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This critique is applicable to macro-sociological
research on European identity -- Soysal 1994, for
example. However, it also applies to more sociologically
inclined work by political scientists -- Katzenstein
1997; and Banchoff 1999.
On the laboratory-experimental results, see the work of
John Orbell and his collaborators: Van de Kragt, Orbell
and Dawes 1983; Dawes, Van de Kragt and Orbell 1988;
Orbell, Dawes and Van de Kragt 1988; and Idem
1990. Thanks to Jim Caporaso for discussion on these
See, especially, the work of Jan Beyers (1998), Morten
Egeberg (1999) and Liesbet Hooghe (1999). For the
decoupling argument, I am indebted to Johan P. Olsen and
Later drafts will add the minorities committee, thus
introducing a comparative element to my design.
Checkel 2000b, 14-17, addresses the validity of this
research methodology in some detail. The confidential
documents are not verbatim transcripts of the meetings,
but summaries prepared by the CE Secretariat and then
approved by the full Committee. To control for the
possibility that the latter might alter the true record
of its discussions at this approval stage, I conducted
interviews with the Secretariat officials responsible for
preparing the summaries.
Checkel 1999; Idem 2000b.
Wiener 1998; Council of Europe 2000; Farrell and Flynn
1999; Ratner 2000.
Council of Europe 1994a; and Idem 1997b,
respectively. Elsewhere, I consider the norms promoted by
the EU's European citizenship provisions. Checkel 2000a.
Specifically on the dual-nationality/identity nexus, see
"Europa kommt der einst verpoenten
Doppelstaatsbuergerschaft naeher," Die Presse,
January 21, 1999; and "Dual Nationality" 2000.
Brewer and Herrmann 2000, 10. On the ECHR, its case law
and its national effects, see Drzemczewski 1983.
Regarding the informal social practices, see Interviews,
Council of Europe Secretariat, June 1995, November 1998.
Interviews: Leonard Davies, Secretary to the Committee of
Ministers, CE Secretariat, July 1995; Horst Schade,
former Secretary to the Committee of Experts on
Nationality, CE Secretariat, May 1994, June 1995,
November 1998; GianLuca Esposito, current Secretary to
the Committee of Experts on Nationality, CE Secretariat,
April 1997, November 1998; Hanno Hartig, former Secretary
to the Committee of Experts on National Minorities, CE
Secretariat, May 1994, June 1995, April 1997, November
1998; and Frank Steketee, current Secretary to the
Committee of Experts on National Minorities, CE
Secretariat, April 1997, November 1998.
See also Brewer and Herrmann 2000, 10-12, on the nesting
of multiple national and supranational identities. For
the quote, see Council of Europe 1993a, 10.
Council of Europe 1996a, Appendix II, 209-210. For the
Committee's formal terms of reference, see Council of
Europe 1993a, 3-4.
My Strasbourg/CE field work was conducted in May 1994,
June-July 1995, April 1997, November 1998 and December
Council of Europe 1993a, 6-7 (for quote); Idem
1993b, 6 (Paragraph 13).
Council of Europe 1993a, Paragraph 14 (for quote),
Paragraph 21, and passim. Also see Interviews:
Michael von Kluechtzner, German representative to the
Committee, Bonn, March, August, 1995.
Council of Europe 1993b, 5, 8 -- quote at p.8. See also
Council of Europe 1994b, 2-3, 5, where it is noted (p.5)
that nationality was "an evolving concept."
Council of Europe 1993b, 4-6, 11.
Council of Europe 1993b, 5 (Paragraph 7); and Interviews:
CE Secretariat, June 1995. For further evidence of this
bargaining game, see Council of Europe 1994c, 7, 11; and Idem
1996b, 5 (Paragraph 27), both of which document the
efforts of one representative to bias Committee
discussions against any European nationality norm that
might favor or even be neutral to dual nationality.
Council of Europe 1994d, 3, 9 (for quotes); and
Interview: Ambassador Ulrich Hack, Head, Permanent
Representation of Austria to the Council of Europe and
former Chair of the Committee, Strasbourg, November 1998.
Tellingly, at this same meeting, the group proposed to
change its name from Committee of Experts on Multiple
Nationality to Committee of Experts on Nationality.
Council of Europe 1994d, Brief Forward. On the neutrality
of the draft convention as regards multiple nationality,
also see Council of Europe 1995a, 7 (Paragraph 38).
Council of Europe 1995b, 9.
Council of Europe 1994c, 6; Idem 1995b, 5; Idem
1995c, 4; Interviews: GianLuca Esposito, April 1997;
Margaret Killerby, Head, Division of Private and
International Law, Directorate of Legal Affairs, CE
Secretariat, June 1995, April 1997, November 1998.
Killerby was the top Secretariat official with
responsibility for the new convention.
On Turks and their "illegal" acquisition of
dual nationality in Germany, see Checkel 2000a.
Council of Europe 1993a, 4-5; and Interviews: Horst
Schade, May 1994, June-July 1995, November 1998; GianLuca
Esposito, June-July 1995, April 1997, November 1998; and
Ambassador Ulrich Hack, November 1998.
Council of Europe 1993a, 10-11. See also Council of
Europe 1995a, 9; and Idem 1995d, Brief Forward. On
teaching and possible value/identity change, see
For the quote, see Council of Europe 1995d, 3. See also
Note 17 above; and Council of Europe 1996b, 2. This
characterization of the Committee's dynamics draws upon
extensive discussions with its current (GianLuca
Esposito) and former (Horst Schade) secretaries, as well
as its chair, Ambassador Ulrich Hack. There is a large
theoretical literature linking professionalization and
expertise with shifts towards more deliberative forms of
decisionmaking -- Haas 1992, for example.
See Council of Europe 1995e, 4 (paragraphs 21, 22); and,
especially, Idem 1996c, passim. The latter
is the confidential summary of the session where the
final draft text of the treaty was adopted. In several
ways, the language in it is unusual and indicative of a
bargaining game. For example, the summary notes that
"the following comments were considered to be
essential for the record" and, then, in contrast to
the usual practice, records specific remarks by named
delegations (the representative from the Czech Republic,
the German delegate, etc). Also see Interviews:
Horst Schade, April 1997, November 1998.
The sources behind this inference are two-fold. For one,
the confidential meeting summaries reveal very few
instances of interventions by East European or former
Soviet representatives. In addition, see Interviews:
GianLuca Esposito, April 1997; Margaret Killerby, April
1997; and Frank Steketee, November 1998.
On emulation more generally, see DiMaggio and Powell
While the confidential meeting summaries regularly hint
at debates and discussions, it was only in-depth
interviewing that allowed me to specify their
persuasive/argumentative quality. Interviews: Ulrich
Hack, November 1998; Horst Schade, May 1994, June-July
1995, November 1998, December 1999; and GianLuca
Esposito, April 1997, November 1998. All three
individuals participated in both the Working Party and
full Committee meetings. In a future round of field work,
I plan to rectify this methodologically unsatisfactory
reliance on a single data stream by pursuing two
strategies: distributing a written survey/questionnaire
exploring these social dynamics to all Committee members;
and conducting interviews with the remaining members of
the Working Party.
Interviews, as in previous note. When I suggested to my
interviewees four possible ways to characterize social
interaction within the group (coercion, bargaining,
persuasion, emulation), persuasion/arguing consistently
came out on top or in the number two position in their
Council of Europe 1997a, 14.
I interviewed this individual on two separate occasions.
The confidential record strongly supports the interview
accounts -- see, especially, Council of Europe 1995e, 7
(for quotes); Idem 1996c, 4, 8; and Idem
Council of Europe 1995e, 7 (Paragraph 40). Note that I
say the Committee contributed to the development of new
nationality norms. As discussed earlier, the OSCE and EU
have also begun to address similar issues.
Council of Europe 1995e, 7 (Paragraph 41). For additional
evidence of this emergent normative understanding within
the Committee, see Council of Europe 1995e, 4, 6; Idem
1996c, 6 (Paragraph 21); Idem 1996d, 8 (paragraphs
52, 53); the Explanatory Report appended to the new
Convention, as reproduced in Council of Europe 1997b; and
Interviews, as in Note 30. The reaction of European media
to the Convention as embodying new norms further supports
the interpretation advanced here. See "Neue
Konvention des Europarats: Doppelte Staatszugehoerigkeit
erleichtern," Das Parlament Nr.47, November
14, 1997; and "Wir wollen zwei Paesse," Die
Zeit, November 21, 1997, for example. European
nationality norms might thus be said to be at the
emergence stage in their life cycle. Finnemore and
Sikkink 1998, 895.
Given the deeply institutionalized nature of existing
understandings of nationality in contemporary Europe, and
their close relation to state identity and sovereignty,
the surprise would be if they were to be replaced
On the last point, see Martin and Simmons 1998, 735-36;
and, especially, Pollack 1998.
On individuals and multiple identities, see Brewer and
Herrmann 2000, 11-12, and the sources cited therein.
See Note 30 above.
Johnston 1998a, b; Checkel 2000b, 23-31.
For the questions, see Brewer and Herrmann 2000, 15-19.
Scandinavian institutional theorists have been especially
successful at teasing out and theorizing the role of
formal structure and linking it to questions of
European/agent identity change. Egeberg 1999, for
On the IR literature, see Martin and Simmons 1998; and,
especially, Barnett and Finnemore 1999. For the
weaknesses in EU research, see Caporaso and Jupille 1999;
and Aspinwall and Schneider 2000.
The latter has also been a central concern of Ernie Haas,
his students (Ruggie, Adler) and cognitive regime
theorists. However, for the most part, these scholars
have advanced heuristic arguments that are difficult to
operationalize empirically. See Checkel 2000b, 4-6, for
Joerges and Neyer 1997a, b; Johnston 1998a, b; Eriksen
and Fossum 2000; Risse 2000. See also Finnemore 1999,
chapter 5; and Schimmelfennig 2000.
For a full discussion of the theory and its
operationalization, see Checkel 2000b, 10-17. Within the
social psychology and communications literature, see,
especially, Zimbardo and Leippe 1991; Perloff 1993;
Brody, Mutz and Sniderman 1996; Cobb and Kuklinski 1997;
and Gibson 1998. See also Riker 1986.
[Date of publication in the ARENA
Working Paper series: 15.07.2000]