ARENA Working Papers
WP 00/12



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 European institutions?


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. [1]

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. [2]

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 issues. [3]

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. [4]

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. [5]

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 states. [6]

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 needed.

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]). [7]

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. [8]

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. [9]

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." [10]

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. [11]

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 8-10 individuals.

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. [12]

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. [13]

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. [14]

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 nationality. [15]

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. [16]

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 State." [17]

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. [18]

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. [19]

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." [20]

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 Convention. [21]

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. [22]

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 challenged. [23]

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. [24]

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. [25]

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. [26]

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. [27]

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. [28]

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 sessions. [29]

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. [30]

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. [31]

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 deliberations." [32]

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 country. [33]

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." [34]

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 Parties." [35]

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. [36]

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 change. [37]

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? [38]

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 Europeanized. [39]

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. [40]

Theoretical Implications

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. [41]

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." [42]

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. [43]

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. [44]

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. [45]

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. [46]

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 began.

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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[1] 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.

[2] 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 points.

[3] 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 Jarle Trondal.

[4] Later drafts will add the minorities committee, thus introducing a comparative element to my design.

[5] 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.

[6] Checkel 1999; Idem 2000b.

[7] Wiener 1998; Council of Europe 2000; Farrell and Flynn 1999; Ratner 2000.

[8] Council of Europe 1994a; and Idem 1997b, respectively. Elsewhere, I consider the norms promoted by the EU's European citizenship provisions. Checkel 2000a.

[9] Specifically on the dual-nationality/identity nexus, see "Europa kommt der einst verpoenten Doppelstaatsbuergerschaft naeher," Die Presse, January 21, 1999; and "Dual Nationality" 2000.

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] 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.

[13] Council of Europe 1996a, Appendix II, 209-210. For the Committee's formal terms of reference, see Council of Europe 1993a, 3-4.

[14] My Strasbourg/CE field work was conducted in May 1994, June-July 1995, April 1997, November 1998 and December 1999.

[15] Council of Europe 1993a, 6-7 (for quote); Idem 1993b, 6 (Paragraph 13).

[16] 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.

[17] 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."

[18] Council of Europe 1993b, 4-6, 11.

[19] 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.

[20] 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).

[21] Council of Europe 1995b, 9.

[22] 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.

[23] On Turks and their "illegal" acquisition of dual nationality in Germany, see Checkel 2000a.

[24] 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.

[25] 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 Finnemore 1996.

[26] 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.

[27] 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.

[28] 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.

[29] On emulation more generally, see DiMaggio and Powell 1991, 69-70.

[30] 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.

[31] 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 rank ordering.

[32] Council of Europe 1997a, 14.

[33] 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 1996d, 12.

[34] 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.

[35] 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.

[36] 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 wholesale.

[37] On the last point, see Martin and Simmons 1998, 735-36; and, especially, Pollack 1998.

[38] On individuals and multiple identities, see Brewer and Herrmann 2000, 11-12, and the sources cited therein.

[39] See Note 30 above.

[40] Johnston 1998a, b; Checkel 2000b, 23-31.

[41] For the questions, see Brewer and Herrmann 2000, 15-19.

[42] 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 example.

[43] 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.

[44] 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 details.

[45] Joerges and Neyer 1997a, b; Johnston 1998a, b; Eriksen and Fossum 2000; Risse 2000. See also Finnemore 1999, chapter 5; and Schimmelfennig 2000.

[46] 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]