ARENA Working Papers
WP 01/17


Identity-politics in the European Union

Jon Erik Fossum





I.                  Introduction

The EU is widely held to suffer from a legitimacy deficit. Gerard Delanty notes that �(t)he search for new principles of European legitimacy is inextricably bound up with the attempt to create a space in which collective identities can be formed.� [1] One of the most important and contentious issues is whether such a European identity can at all be formed. The EU consists of Member States, all of which have well-established national identities. The question of a European demos and identity must therefore be seen in relation to entrenched national identities. Does a European identity have to supplant the national ones? Can it supplement or transform these?  How much of a transformation is necessary? Will a European identity be a novel, post-national type of identity? [2] These are complex issues, both in empirical and in normative terms. They are also highly politicised for they evoke deeply held passions and convictions.

Historically speaking, nation building has been marked by struggle, by people actively seeking recognition for their particular culture, history, language, and identity. Nation building can be forged �from above� by elites or �from below�, by social movements or other organised action. [3]   In both cases nation-building can be seen as a struggle for recognition, to ensure that a particular national community is recognised by the world around it and by those who see themselves as - or are made to see themselves as - part of it. Applied to Europe, such a process would draw on the uniqueness of the European experience, in terms of history, culture and language to create a unique European identity and self-professed Europeans. The quest for internal cultural unity would be pursued in conjunction with a similar quest for delineating the unique features of Europe so as to distinguish between Europeans and non-Europeans or �the others�.

That there will be a process in Europe where a European (in the sense of nation-type) identity replaces a Member State national one is highly unlikely. As Habermas notes �It is neither possible nor desirable to level out the national identities of member nations, nor melt them down into a �Nation of Europe�.� [4] In cultural and linguistic terms, Europe is marked more by its diversity than by its coherence. Attempts at fostering a unified European nation-type identity based on a common European cultural tradition are bound to encounter fierce national opposition - driven by the need to ensure continued preservation of nationally based difference. Opposition to integration will then be as driven by the need for recognition of nationally based difference as will be the integration process itself. 

The prospect of supplanting a national with a European nation-type identity appears highly remote. What needs to be explored instead is whether national identities can be supplemented or transformed � even to the extent of becoming post-national. Such a consideration requires attention to the possibility that the contemporary context of identity formation may be quite different from that which existed at the time when the notion of national identity first emerged and when the national identities of the European Member States were formed.

This observation seems particularly apposite now, as cultures and societies are becoming increasingly tightly linked and interconnected, and as societies become increasingly multicultural. These developments bring forth a heightened concern with identity, both regarding recognition of uniqueness, as well as recognition of equality and of equal value. Nations, regions, groups (intra and trans-national) and individuals seek recognition of their unique identity. Struggles for recognition of uniqueness are labelled politics of difference. The efforts by groups and collectives to protect and promote their difference and uniqueness must contend with the efforts by individuals and groups and collectives to ensure the recognition of equal rights and equal dignity of every individual being. The latter is given international support and impetus amongst other sources from a UN-based and European (ECHR and EU) system of human rights protection and promotion. Both forms are part of the struggle for recognition or the politics of recognition. [5]

This article will take the politics of recognition as its starting point in the exploration of European identity. [6] Drawing on Hegel, among others, political theorists such as Charles Taylor and Axel Honneth see recognition as a precondition for identity formation. Individuals, groups and collectives seek recognition of their cultures, ways of life, and values. The recent upsurge in identity politics is interesting in that national identities must compete with a wide range of claims for recognition from women�s groups, gays and lesbians, aboriginal peoples, immigrants, ethnic groups, and other who feel deprived of self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem. [7] Contemporary patterns of identity-politics stimulate claims and claimants that pursue gender-based, ethnic, regional and other modes of identification that bear no resemblance to national identity.

These developments appear particularly interesting in the European context, as the EU is a novel type of entity. The EU is a complex entity with supranational, transnational and intergovernmental traits, which suggests that it may be conducive to a wide range of identities and forms of belonging. The present resurgence of identity politics reminds us that there is not necessarily a zero-sum struggle between a national and a European identity. People have always had multiple identities and the European integration process may make it easier to simultaneously embrace a national and a European identity. This is not merely a vertical matter of levels. It is also a horizontal matter, in the sense that territorially as well as non-territorially based identities compete with the national ones as well as the (emerging) European one. The international resurgence of identity politics brings with it other forms of identity, which may profoundly affect the forming of a European identity and the ensuing reshaping of national ones.

How to study this? In the next section, section Two, I will specify what is meant by recognition and spell out the central features of a politics of recognition. Then I will explore how different forms of recognition will affect the emergence of a European identity through pairing these with different conceptions of the EU. To do so, in the Third section, I outline and briefly discuss four different scenarios, each of which combines a particular mode of recognition with a particular conception of the EU. The ensuing four-fold table is a heuristic device to sharpen the discussion of identity politics in the EU. Section Four holds the conclusion. 


II.               The Politics of Recognition

The interdisciplinary and rapidly growing body of literature on recognition and identity politics deals with the question of how different cultures can manage to live together and how it is possible to reconcile a multitude of different identity-based claims for difference with a common sense of community and identity. These concerns are highly relevant to the European situation but extend well beyond Europe. They are issues of deep moral and ethical salience.

Liberal democracy has long been seen as a vital means of fostering the sense of commonality upon which modern societies can be built. Although such societies have developed deeply entrenched democratic regimes, they are still marked by deep tensions. As Charles Taylor has noted: "(d)emocracy has ushered in a politics of equal recognition, which has taken various forms over the years, and has now returned in the form of demands for the equal status of cultures and of genders." [8]

This 'politics of recognition', was initially based on equality and a heightened emphasis on the individual, or an 'individualised identity'. It was associated with a notion of individual dignity that conceived of democracy in a universalist and egalitarian manner. This focus on the individual has served to strengthen the ideal of 'authenticity', which referred to being true to oneself and to search for a 'moral voice from within'. Taylor argues that in recent years the moral voice has been redirected and perhaps even become more silent. The modern sense of dislocation and atomisation has greatly increased the need for recognition. This need for recognition is seen as directly linked to the identity of the individual and the group and collective: "(t)he thesis is that our identity is partly shaped by recognition or its absence, often by the misrecognition of others, and so a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves... What has come about with the modern age is not the need for recognition but the conditions in which the attempt to be recognized can fail." [9] Therefore, whilst the need for recognition is a universal trait of humans as social beings, the particular conditions under which modern people live have served to greatly increase this deep-felt need.

The politics of recognition has increasingly taken on a group-based nature, and includes demands for recognition by social and ethnic groups, and not the least by nations. One particularly interesting and controversial claim is that each culture is unique and of equal value.

There are numerous examples of claims for recognition of unique identity, both within Europe and outside. Inside Europe, much of the scepticism to the integration process voiced by for instance the Danish populace stems from the felt need to protect a unique Danish national identity in Europe. Outside of Europe, the debate on the role of Quebec within the Canadian federation has revolved around the question of recognition. Taylor himself has been a towering figure in this debate. The nature of the demands has been increasingly oriented to recognition of uniqueness and relate to what Taylor and Iris Young, as well as numerous other analysts, term the politics of difference. The politics of difference applies to group-based differences based on gender, sex, race, ethnicity, language, and not the least nationality.

There are two important discernible effects of these developments. The first has been to produce a conflict between the politics of equal dignity and the politics of difference. The second has been to produce a heightened tension between various claims for protection of difference or uniqueness. Here there is a tension between difference in terms of uniqueness vs. difference as equally valuable, i.e. that each culture is equally valuable.

National identity is privileged in the very structure and workings of the so-called Westphalian state system. [10] Max Weber underlined the important distinction between state and nation. [11] The state is a political institution and an organisational form, whereas the nation is a cultural community and an idea. Benedict Anderson underlines that the nation is an imagined community, �because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.� [12] As a community, the nation is based on a form of solidarity. It is also always in some sense a construction, in that it is a (re)invented community. Some symbols are highlighted and some aspect of a community�s past are highlighted at the behest of other: �Only the symbolic construction of �a people� makes the modern state into a nation-state.� [13] There are also different views as to how �thick� this sense of community and belonging is and from where it is derived. The two main positions can be captured in Friedrich Meinecke�s famous distinction between Staatsnation and Kulturnation, a distinction that is quite similar to that of Anthony Smith between civic and ethnic nation. [14] The former is a territorially based community of common descent, based on �historic territory, legal-political community, legal-political equality of the members, and common civic culture and ideology��, whereas the latter is based on descent where the nation is �seen as a fictive �super-family�, and it boasts pedigrees and genealogies to back up its claims�� [15] The former is more inclusive and also �thinner� than the latter. National identity, to Smith, is based on those traits that are common to both of these versions, namely �(1) an historic territory, or homeland; (2) common myths and historical memories; (3) a common, mass public culture; (4) common legal rights and duties for all members; [and] (5) a common economy with territorial mobility for members.� [16] National identity is based on the conception of a collective national consciousness, whose sources are culturally based but need not be predetermined or given and can be constructed. [17] The range of forms that nationalism can take is kaleidoscopic. [18] It is nationalism as a doctrine of popular freedom, sovereignty and self-determination rather than the type of community associated with the nation that has given the phenomenon such political force and ubiquity.

National identity - as a mode of identification with a unique and distinct community - is given institutional recognition and sustained by each individual self-professed nation-state, as well as in the internationally established legal code or �law of the peoples�, that provides the criteria for designating and formally recognising states.

The quest for equal dignity has also become increasingly institutionalised, both at the state level, in the national constitutional orders, as well as at the international level, in an increasingly dense network of human rights. Human rights are entrenched in the UN declaration as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Some of these conventions are also explicitly focussed on the recognition of culture, language and human diversity, [19] and some also contain special protections for selected groups, such as is the case with aboriginal peoples.

Globalisation in this legal sense as well as in economic and technological terms, combined with other factors, represents a profound challenge to the Westphalian State System. Questions are raised as to whether we see the emergence of a new system, variously labelled a post-national constellation [20] or a new Cosmopolitan Order. [21] Such a system would be far more attuned to the non-national and hitherto less institutionalised forms of politics of difference, namely those based on gender, region, race, and ethnicity. As noted, in the Westphalian system national identity was structurally privileged. Nationally defined territorial bounds - reinforced by the insecurities of states in a largely self-help state system � placed obvious constraints on the ability of other modes of identification to mobilise and become institutionalised on a broader cross-national scale.

Several recent developments have challenged this system. Globalisation has significantly affected states. David Held provides the following list of factors:

first, the way processes of economic, political, legal and military interconnectedness are changing the state from above, as its �regulatory� ability is challenged and reduced in some spheres; secondly, the way local groups, movements and nationalisms are questioning the nation-state from below as a representative and accountable power system; and thirdly, the way global interconnectedness creates chains of interlocking political decisions and outcomes among states and their citizens, altering the nature and dynamics of national political systems themselves. [22]

With more specific reference to identity, in terms of the first point listed by Held, increased interconnectedness and globally induced contestation, weaken the institutional mechanisms and organisations that have hitherto sustained national identities. Second, minorities who were incorporated into states either without their explicit consent or even more against their will have become more assertive and demand compensation and/or autonomy. This has resulted in deep tensions within states, as well as in demands for international measures for minority protection, the most apparent being demands for self-government by aboriginal peoples. Further, immigration and heightened mobility have greatly increased the ethnic and cultural diversity of most states. The politics of difference thus manifests itself in claims for secession, autonomy, self-government and federalism for national groups and in claims for poly-ethnic rights for immigrants and refugees. Minority groups and women�s groups (a majority group) sometimes seek special representation rights. [23] Groups may seek rights-based protections from the larger society, or external protections from the majority. They may seek special protections for their own group which may infringe on the rights of individuals within their group or outside the group, but who are affected by their actions. The problems of multiculturalism (and multinationalism) extend beyond the question of multiple rights-based claims and relate to the complex notions of recognition and recognition denied. [24]   Claims for recognition of difference are assertions of difference, which must be heeded for groups to be able to develop a sense of commonality and mutual respect. Legitimacy is here closely tied up with the notion of recognition and recognition denied.

The politics of recognition - in particular the politics of difference - holds such potential for political conflicts because it revolves less around preferences and more around matters of identity, in particular how identities are shaped, who contributes to the shaping, and how a person�s and group�s sense of identity can be violated or harmed. The politics of difference highlights the role and salience of groups in the shaping of political identities. As Iris Young asserts, social groups �are socially prior to individuals, because people�s identities are partly constituted by their group affinities. Social groups reflect ways that people identify themselves and others, which lead them to associate with some people more than other ones and to treat others as different.� [25] At the face of it the heightened salience of questions of identity seems to suggest that material concerns matter less than has hitherto been the case. It brings more attention to the emotive aspects of preference- and identity-formation. But this is not the entire picture, as a biased distribution of endowments is often seen as evidence of oppression or denial of recognition. [26] Therefore, material and resource-related components still matter a lot, not only in and of themselves, but also in terms of how their production, organisation and distribution relate to the overarching concerns with recognition/denial of recognition and oppression.

The politics of difference challenges established notions of legitimacy in part because it represents an altered conception of the content and boundaries of politics.  It entails a greatly strengthened attention to cultural aspects and the role of societal cultures and other group-based affiliations in shaping identities. In the extension of this, it is widely recognised that the state and other political institutions are not difference-blind. Rather, the state and other political institutions are seen as heavily biased in favour of certain cultures or life worlds. This is also where the politics of equal dignity parts most clearly with the politics of difference, because the latter would assert that �the pursuit of what are thought to be universally valid principles leads to the reification of certain culture-specific values associated with a hegemonic culture which discriminates against the values promoted by other cultures.� [27] The net effect is not only to weaken individuals� and groups� trust in public policies and political institutions but also their sense of self-respect. Weakened trust and self-respect make groups and individuals who feel oppressed demand changes in institutional arrangements not only to protect group-based difference and foster empathy and solidarity among groups but also to restore a measure of self-respect. The politics of difference therefore also challenges established systems of democratic governance.


III.           The Politics of Recognition in the EU

To address the question of identity in Europe it is necessary to establish who the central actors are. The concern with identity is always someone�s concern. The actors that are most clearly and explicitly propounded within the politics of recognition are social movements and groups. When successful, these actors manage to get their concerns institutionalised, such as for instance when a national liberation movement succeeds in having a set of state institutions propound its vision of community and sense of identity. The politics of recognition is also pursued by institutional actors, of which nation-states are the foremost example.

From the state-building literature it has been observed that �shifts in the structure and geographic locus of institutionalized power can be expected to be accompanied by simultaneous changes in the structure and locus of mass politics.� [28] The emergence of the modern nation-state, Marks et al. observe, was marked by the establishment of a central state authority which became the central focal point for social movements. Stein Rokkan underlines that the dual processes of state formation and nation-building were marked by increases in participation, as more and more groups and regions were subjected to and became involved in the emerging polity. [29]  

The process of polity building in the EU exhibits tensions between institutionalised and movement politics, although the question of who drive the integration process is still highly contentious. [30] Marks et al. note that the fragmented EU-level will most likely foster �the development and proliferation of multiple movement forms�� [31]   at multiple levels of governance. There is no assurance that those struggles for recognition that contributed to establish and shape the contemporary nation-state will be replicated in the EU, as the EU is not a state nor need it become one. [32] One important clue to how the EU will develop relates to the intensity and the direction of the politics of recognition.

When applied to the EU, four possible scenarios are conceivable with regard to how a politics of recognition may unfold and affect the prospect for a European identity. [33] These are ideal types in the sense that they represent qualitatively different conceptions of the EU and the type of affiliation and identification that the entity can foremost draw upon. Every polity is marked by the tension between the politics of equality and the politics of difference but polities differ precisely because some privilege equality whereas other privilege difference.

     Politics of recognition

Direction of the

integration process

                                                            Equal dignity                        Difference


 EU as a collection of democratic (rights-oriented)  Member States



 EU as a collection of national cultural communities




EU as a rights-based federal-type entity (civil, political, economic and social rights)



EU as marked by �deep diversity� � a wide range of identity-based claims � nationalist and social-movement based



In the following pages, these four scenarios will be briefly assessed, by spelling out a set of criteria for each and briefly examining these. A thorough assessment based on the current situation would include (a) a survey of all those factors that affect identity formation in the contemporary world; (b) the cultural and institutional prospects for a European identity (which include its institutional structure, rights basis, constitutional status, and ethnic and cultural make-up of the entire territory that makes up the EU; (c) the nature and magnitude of transformation of all of those components that have forged and are vital to the upholding of the national identities in every Member State; and (d) the role and salience of other forms of identity (including region, gender, sexuality, ethnicity etc.) and their relation to the European and national ones. This is far beyond what is possible here.

The main purpose is to try to get a better sense of the direction in which the EU is moving in identitive terms. To do so each scenario is discussed separately. This brief discussion can only provide an assessment of overall trends - it cannot render visible the richness of the European experience.

A Europe of co-operating democratic states

The first scenario highlights the EU as an intergovernmental organisation, made up of democratic Member States. In this scenario European co-operation is founded on intergovernmental principles. There is no onus on establishing the organisational and institutional framework necessary to develop and sustain a European identity. Insofar as there are struggles for recognition, such take place within the national bounds of the Member States. There is no real effort on the part of social movements, groups or organisations to seek recognition of a unique European identity.

Each Member State embodies within its legal and constitutional structure a set of basic rights, including civil, political, social and economic. The legitimacy of the EU is based on the democratic character of the Member States of which it is composed. The EU is a subsidiary organisation in the sense that it deals with those tasks that the Member States can not do. These tasks are not very conducive to the formation of a Euro-polity. The EU is conceived of as a relatively loose type of co-operation, which does not challenge the rights of the Member States, nor develop its own system of rights.

How relevant is this scenario to present-day EU? It is premised on (a) a conception of the EU as based on indirect legitimation and legitimation through outcomes, (b) limited trans-national activity and interaction, and (c) that the integration process does not touch on or affect the national identities of the Member States. This scenario was of some relevance to the EC in the pre-Maastricht period.

Although the EU (EEC/EC pre-Maastricht) has always foremost been a political project it was particularly focussed on and successful in terms of fostering economic integration. The common market project was a central feature of then EEC/EC. The EEC/EC/EU has been and is based on the principle of legality, which means that its actions have to have a treaty basis. From this principle, in formal terms, the Member States are the �masters of the treaties�, a formal fact which is still largely reflected in how treaty change is conducted. In this sense the scope for developing a common European cultural identity will be quite narrow. The EEC/EC was barred from intervening in the most important cultural fields, and its rather narrow base confined rights developments foremost to the realm of economic rights (the foremost example of which are the so-called four freedoms in the SEA). Civil rights were also important but in the early stages of the EU�s history were upheld by the Member States and by the ECHR. Political rights were foremost upheld by the Member States. Based on this description, the structure does not seem overly conducive to struggles for recognition, whether to develop a common European identity or to promote the claims of social movements. This structure would also not seem to engender much national resistance or opposition.

However, such an assessment of the EU ignores two central facts. The first is that the EU has its roots in an organisation with supranational institutions from the on start (the High Authority of the ECSC was a supranational body). Over time, in particular throughout the 1980s and 1990s, these institutions have changed and greatly strengthened their role, this applies foremost to the Court of Justice, the Commission and the European Parliament. These institutions have sought to foster a European identity, albeit a highly inclusive one. [34] Concomitant with this, the scope of EU action has also widened dramatically: �In addition to redistribution, through the regulation of social, environmental and health risk, EU citizenship, and competencies over food safety, culture, tourism, immigration, combating racism and xenophobia, and police and judicial co-operation, the EU is increasingly involved in the allocation of social and political values throughout Europe.� [35] The second fact is the role of European law, which departed from international law and has developed into a supranational legal structure. Many analysts claim that the EU already has developed a constitution � although not an attendant rationale or telos. [36] The EU has become a rights-granting entity, and has developed an independent ability to shape and affect identities in Europe.

These brief observations reveal that the first scenario is not overly relevant to depict contemporary European reality. The integration process has increasingly come to touch on issues that affect and even shape national identifications and values. It also fosters transnational activity and thus stimulates social movement activism. The strengthened role of supranational institutions (increased depth of integration) combined with integration including additional policy fields (breadth of integration) are conducive to a �rights-based spill-over�, i.e. from economic rights to other sets of rights, with a concomitant reconfiguration of the rights-holders. As one analyst has noted �(t)he metamorphosis of workers into persons was no semantic accident: it reflected the transformation of the Community from being a merely economic organisation into one that affected, and benefited, all its inhabitants irrespective of their economic function and, indeed, irrespective of whether they had any economic function.� [37] A self-reinforcing cycle of integration is stimulated. Rights-based harmonisation across the EU spurs further integration and the emergence or strengthening of supranational institutions. Integration also fosters transnational organising which will be conducive to rights development and supranational institutional developments. Supranational institutions will seek to strengthen their role and seek legitimacy and hence establish/foster supranational identities. Since the EU increasingly affects those aspects of Europe that influence people�s identities, it is reasonable to assume that it would increasingly become the locus of claims for recognition. It is intrinsic to the notion of recognition that those who demand recognition from a political entity also consider this entity to be important and at least potentially capable of addressing their demands in a satisfactory manner. For instance, if social groups shift their demands for recognition from the nation state level to the EU-level, this is a clear sign of an increased salience of the EU-level, as the social groups then obviously believe that the EU can provide them with something that they want or need. Therefore, demands for recognition from the EU should be viewed not simply as signs of disaffection or resentment, but also as evidence of a heightened legitimacy of this novel and still part-formed political entity.

The neo-functionalist assumption is that supranational integration weakens national attachments. But it is also conceivable that integration will spark national opposition and resistance � explicitly motivated by identity. To what extent has this happened? How has this shaped the integration process?


A Europe of Resurging Nationalisms?

The second scenario conceives of the EU as an intergovernmental organisation made up of a collection of nation-states. Each nation-state is the protector and promoter of its own national community and unique national identity. The EU is legitimate insofar as it does not challenge the cultural integrity and sense of identity that marks every Member State. In other words it is a mode of association that has to respect and uphold the role of each nation-state as culture-generator and protector, and the EU can not be based on a competing or overarching identity.

This scenario is premised on the existence of significant constraints on supranational integration. Further, it is premised on the notion that each Member State is so concerned with its identity and national uniqueness that if such is challenged, it will mobilise in response. Responses need not be uniform in time nor in intensity. Some nations may require little to respond, whereas to other there may be a considerable time lag, or even a critical threshold that must be passed before there is a reaction. The latter may appear more credible given that the EU already has developed important supranational features. However, these features are fragile and even contested. The EU has weak sanctioning ability. All these factors suggest that the supranational features of the EU may not withstand a real challenge from the nation-states.

There have been numerous large and small �nationalist� responses to the integration process, which have affected the integration process. The French president Charles de Gaulle, who saw the then EEC as an association of states - at several instances staunchly defended what he saw as French national interests � with profound ramifications for the integration process as the result. [38] Such upheavals have probably varied in the extent to which they can be seen as expressions of national identity, though. The UK Tory opposition to European integration has been deeply driven by concern with protecting British or better English identity.

The question of response pertains to the nature and direction of the integration process; it also pertains to how transparent and open this process has been, i.e. whether those affected have known what was going on. Effective opposition requires access and information. Transparency has become an important issue. Pascal Lamy [39] has said (after the initial Danish no to the Maastricht Treaty) that: "Europe was built in a St Simonian way from the beginning, this was Monnet's approach. The people weren't ready to agree to integration, so you had to get on without telling them too much about what was happening. Now St Simonianism is finished. It can't work when you have to face democratic opinion." [40] This statement reveals that explicit efforts were taken to prevent much of the diversity of Europe from manifesting itself in the fragile structure that was carefully erected. The Maastricht Treaty, as Lamy notes, was probably the most important single change. It was a major step in the process of polity making in Europe and reminded policy-makers and publics alike that the EU was now an entity that required a measure of direct legitimacy. It had developed such strong supranational features that it could no longer rely only on an indirect notion of legitimacy. By then, the EU had established a supranational legal system, it was a rights-granting entity, and it had taken on a wide range of additional tasks that are highly relevant to identity-formation and which affect the question of recognition.

The initial Danish rejection of the Maastricht Treaty in the 1992 June referendum was to a large extent an assertion of national difference and motivated by a felt need to protect the Danish national identity. A similar attitude was evident also in the Amsterdam Treaty process and in the popular rejection of the Euro. Similar motivations have been evident in all countries of Europe, perhaps in particular Denmark, the UK and Sweden but also in France and Ireland (which recently rejected the Nice Treaty in the referendum).

Both Denmark and the UK have actively sought opt-outs of the process. Denmark has obtained exemptions such as for instance on EU citizenship. The relevant Treaty provision states that �no Danish citizen is allowed to avail of any right or fulfil any duty deriving from European citizenship if it conflicts with his/her position as a Danish citizen." [41] This opt-out is clearly motivated by the need to protect Danish identity. What is also noteworthy is that the Danish reaction was not foremost a rejection of the European integration project, but an assertion of the need to protect national difference. [42]  

Another example of the resilience of the nation-state as a framing device in the conception of democratic legitimacy is the Karlsruhe ruling of the German Constitutional Court, which propounded the by now famous No-demos thesis. This ruling �is premised on an organic understanding of peoplehood deriving from the European Nation-State tradition which conflates nationality and citizenship and can, as a result, conceive of Demos only in statal terms.� [43] Although the German Constitutional Court supported the Maastricht Treaty, it sought to justify the EU foremost with reference to its being an association of states. The Court conceived of a vital link between Demos as Volk with both common subjective elements (socio-psychological) and common objective elements (common language, history, cultural habits and sensibilities, ethnic origin and religion) on the one hand, and state on the other.

However, despite these and other examples, there has not been a consistent pattern of strong nationally based opposition. Although opposition has led to the integration process slowing down and becoming redirected it never completely stalled it. There is no clear evidence to show that whenever the integration process has escalated identity-based national opposition has risen in concomitance with this.

The trend in the EU is quite clear. There is increased use of majoritarian voting rules rather than unanimity and the integration process has continued to move into new policy areas. This is also clearly evident in the latest treaty change, the Nice Treaty 2000. Enlargement will also greatly increase the size of the EU. These developments most likely also affect the nature of identity-based national opposition, a point, which will be discussed further when discussing the next scenario. It is also noteworthy that these and other developments also help spur a politics of difference propounded by actors who are far more supportive of integration and supranational institutions. This applies for instance to regions, as we will see in the next section. The net upshot of this is to note that it is necessary to distinguish between a politics of national difference fostered by established nation-states with a specific territorial basis and a distinct voice in the integration process on the one hand, and a politics of group-based difference, on the other. The latter claims for difference may not serve to stymie integration but may actually encourage it.

In sum, national reactions have never stopped the integration process - instead this process has kept on and has even picked up momentum. This scenario is thus clearly inadequate as a depiction of contemporary EU.

A Europe of deep cultural diversity

The third scenario is based on a supranational structure that supports and sustains a wide range of different identities and cultures in Europe. In this scenario, national claims for protection and promotion of difference compete and co-exist with regional and group-based claims for protection and promotion of difference. Rather than fostering a dominant or overarching identity, the system is marked by �diversity awareness�. [44] Group-based claims can be based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, and disability. In this scenario the EU is poly-ethnic and multinational. The supranational structure supports this diversity in that it both provides a credible outlet for claims as well as actively fosters such diversity. The legitimacy of the EU is based on its inclusiveness and flexibility in terms of supporting a multitude of attachments and identifications. This view of the EU is premised on a thin conception of common citizenship, one that is compatible with and supports the deep diversity of culturally and nationally distinctive groups and communities. Charles Taylor sees deep diversity as a �plurality of ways of belonging� to the polity and open to multiple conceptions of citizenship, which coexist within the same polity or state. Applied to the EU, European citizenship is derived from and made subject to the multitude of conceptions of citizenship that co-exist within Europe and which sustain a range of different senses of attachment.

The diversity of Europe is not a modern phenomenon. If anything, the process of nation building has been an effort to reduce the range of diversity in Europe, as well as to eliminate medieval and even older vestiges of supranationalism. The success of this effort has been very uneven, both in terms of reducing diversity and in terms of eliminating Europe�s supranational roots. This is also because the supranational traits were concentrated to certain parts or regions of Europe. As Stein Rokkan observes:

The great paradox of Western Europe was that it developed a number of strong centers of territorial control at the edges of an Old Empire: the decisive thrusts of state formation and nation-building took place on the peripheries of the political vacuum left by the disruption of the old Roman Empire...

What turned out to be crucial in the European development was that the fragmented center belt was made up of territories at an advanced level of culture, technologically as well as organizationally.  First, there was a well-developed agricultural economy...; second, there was a remarkable network of highly autonomous cities, institutionally distinct from the surrounding agricultural lands; third, these cities as well as the rural areas were linked together culturally through a common religion as a cross-territorial corporated church, through the operation of a major organization for long-distance communication through craft literacy in one dominant language, Latin; and fourth, the transactions across these varied autonomous territories were controlled under a body of inherited normative precepts, those embodied in the long tradition of Roman Law.

At the core of this highly developed region all attempts at military-administrative center-building failed until the nineteenth century. [45]

The diversity of Europe has deep historical roots - including supranational ones. These roots are conducive to a wide range of attachments embedded in a complex mixture of supranational, transnational and intergovernmental principles and institutions.

In the present situation there is little doubt that the supranational EU institutions have a strong incentive to elicit support from social movements, which are excluded from or whose concerns have received scant attention from their respective national political arenas. This applies to the Commission and the EP, both of which have taken numerous measures to stimulate social movement activism. It also applies to the re-emergence of regionalism and a resurgence of efforts to construct regional identities - either within Member States or in regions that cut across Member-States. [46] As Marks et al. observe, �(t)he possibility of regional empowerment in Europe has influenced culturally distinctive regional movements away from the demand for full national independence toward the demand for greater autonomy in the context of the EU. As policy-making has shifted away from national executives up the supranational level and down to subnational governments, so the issue of nationality appears separable from the demand for an independent state. In reducing the stateness of the European polity, the development of the EU has diverted ethnic groups away from a focus on forging a separate state as their ultimate goal." [47]

Nationalist scholars insist that a common language is vital to the fostering of a national identity. The EU is not committed to a common language but to the protection of linguistic diversity, through an official language policy that recognises 11 official languages. Further, the EU also supports such agencies as the European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL). EBLUL is a fully EU-funded and independent NGO, which �acts and speaks on behalf of the more than 40 million European Union citizens who speak an autochthonous language other than the main official language of the State in which they live. The Bureau's general aim is to promote the autochthonous lesser used (regional, minority and non-territorial) languages of the member states of the European Union and the linguistic rights of those who speak these languages.� [48] EBLUL was actively involved in the drafting of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which was assented to by the Council of Europe on 5 November 1992.

There is much diversity in Europe and the EU is no doubt involved in the protection of some of this, including forms of diversity other than national ones. The question is whether this will amount to deep diversity. Taylor�s notion of deep diversity is premised on non-converging assertions of difference that seek institutional recognition for their distinctiveness. One important intake to this is to look more closely at the conception of European citizenship precisely because deep diversity would entail differentiated citizenship rights. The Maastricht Treaty established a citizenship of the union. EU citizenship was to be derived from citizenship in each Member State, and was to complement, rather than replace national citizenship a point, which was further underlined in the Amsterdam Treaty. The EU does not embody a common definition of citizenship, because European citizenship is determined by the national incorporation rules of each Member State. Therefore, the EU does not define who are the holders of European citizenship. But the Member States are also not the sole deciders here. European rights relate to the legal interpretations of the European Court of Justice. Article 6(2) EU give these definitive constitutional recognition: �The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.� These rights �may be invoked by any person, whether natural or legal, and are binding on the institutions and the member states in applying Community law." [49] Therefore, nationals of Member States are able to draw on two sets of rights, national and European, and whose internal relations still do not seem to be altogether clear. This creates a tension between the notion of citizenship as derived through each Member State, on the one hand, and as derived directly from the EU, on the other. The conception of citizenship adopted by the EU appears to incorporate a tension between the politics of difference and the politics of equal dignity.

Nationally based difference is generally held to be a source of deep diversity. In the EU the Member States also have retained the main institutional levers through which they have socialised past generations into loyal bearers of each country�s national identity and culture. Compared to the Member States the EU has weak socialising mechanisms. It grants rights, develops regulations and applies funds, as well as seeks to foster cross-country mobility and interaction in general. These mechanisms are geared to the fostering of convergence and not to the protection of diversity.

In the EU, an entity formally committed to forging an ever closer union amongst the peoples of Europe, national identities highly institutionalised in separate states show some signs of convergence. Consider the two most Euro-sceptical countries, Denmark and the UK, during the time of the negotiation and ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty. The Danish referendum debate was very much focused on the need to protect the Danish national identity. But the opponents did not agree on what to protect. All agreed on the need for binding co-operation in Europe but disagreed on how this best could be ensured. [50] The debate was inclusive in two senses: the interlocutors were willing to consider each other�s arguments and recognised that they had obligations to others � including the EU - that they had to respect. In the UK the Conservative government had appealed to the need to protect national identity but was defeated in the election by a Blair government far less bent on preserving national identity. Stephen George in an earlier study also notes that younger people in the UK tend to be more pro-European in their attitudes than are older ones. To the former �membership of the EC has been a fact of their whole lives.� [51] This type of convergence is no doubt far less effective than the socialising mechanisms still residing in the Member States. Its effects over time are also far less predictable. But it does not appear to be conducive to deep diversity.

This scenario presupposes that the supranational structure has �roots� in European society, i.e. that it is seen as a credible and competent outlet for claims. One such test pertains to the role of women�s groups in the EU. Women�s groups have organised at the European level and do see it as a credible outlet, as the EU has taken measures to ensure equality and prevent discrimination. [52] The European Women�s Lobby (EWL) � noted for its success in influencing EU policy [53] - is concerned with gender-based equality. The concern is with widening the interpretation of equality to ensure actual and not only formal equality. The EWL appears to be more concerned with justice than with identity. It finds the recent Directive on discrimination, Directive 200/43/EEC of 23 June 2000, a positive step in the direction of establishing gender equality in the EU but asserts that it does not go far enough. It wants a new Directive in order to �confirm the principle that equality between groups temporarily takes precedence over equality between individuals.� [54] Such measures include affirmative action, quotas etc. and are based on the idea of �mirror representation� but the EWL justifies them with reference to rectifying historical injustice and not that men and women are intrinsically different. The ECJ in recent rulings has moved in the same direction (cf. Marschall v. Land Nordrhein-Westfalen (1997)). Both the claims and their responses � whilst sensitive to gender-based differences �appear to be essentially integrative and not informed by �deep diversity�.

The EU - through the actions by the EP, the Commission and the ECJ, and through fostering transnational, intergovernmental and non-governmental networks - is an important linchpin for a profound identitive transformation in Europe. One aspect is that national identities become more inclusive, regional identities are more strongly asserted and social movements develop a European focus and push matters onto the European agenda. The EU and the Council of Europe seek to protect minority languages. It appears that Kymlicka�s assertion that the thrust for self-government rights, i.e. to protect a national culture, will generally be non-integrationist - and when applied to the EU by implication will weaken it � does not appear to be the case in Europe. National identities are deeply entrenched in the basic structure and workings of the EU. This applies to the day-to-day activities of the institutions as well as to extraordinary and treaty-making events � IGCs. The integration process does make the national identities more inclusive. It also redirects regional identities to the European level, and as such makes them amenable to a multi-level institutional structure with multiple, overlapping rather than competing identities. The question is whether this might suggest the eventual weakening of national identities and the emergence of a novel form of identity in the EU, one of a post-national kind. This takes us to the fourth and last scenario.


A democratic rights-based European Union

The fourth scenario is based on a supranational EU whose foremost role it is to sustain a rights-based politics of equal dignity, which not only places limits on and constrains national identities but also fosters novel, post-national ones. This scenario depicts the EU as a rights-based federal-type entity, which propounds a post-national type of allegiance akin to what has come to be known as �constitutional patriotism�. [55] This type of allegiance has a more abstract foundation and is based on democracy and basic rights. As such it is premised on a distinction between cultural and political modes of social integration. [56] Legal and political institutions are important in the forging of a political culture that can underpin the constitutional arrangement. This political culture is supportive of cultural difference but cultural difference can not be permitted to undermine the common allegiance. Such an entity is premised on an EU-wide citizenship, based on a bundle of civil and political rights that ensure citizens� autonomy and permits them to consider themselves as the ultimate authors of the laws.

The powers and prerogatives of the Member States are specified in such a manner as not to challenge or undermine such an EU-citizenship. Similarly, the powers and prerogatives of the Member States to pursue policies in support of their national identities and communities are limited. The legitimacy of the EU is direct, in the sense that it itself is the source of legitimate governance. This scenario is premised both on the development of such allegiance-forming institutions at the EU level as well as on a significantly reduced ability of the nation states to maintain their national identities.

The main difference between this and the former scenario (3) is the role of rights and the constitution. This scenario also has roots in the past, in the universal and �civilisational� traits of the European experience. Before looking at rights, it is interesting to note that some of the impetus for integration has been fuelled by what may be termed �legitimation through integration� which has been conducive to post-national identity. This applies in particular to a deep-felt need in West Germany after the Second World War and the Nazi atrocities, to restore a measure of self-respect and international recognition as a democratic nation. [57] This was probably especially important to Germany, as many analysts and decision-makers were inclined to see Germany as �innately aggressive�. [58] German national identity was deeply discredited and Germany embraced an inclusive European identity instead. The same argument, albeit in obviously different form, can be extended to Italy and other former non-democratic states such as Portugal and Spain. These states, all of which have had discredited political regimes in the post-war period, seized upon integration as a means of attaining international respectability. Their efforts, then, could be seen as a set of collective attempts to eradicate their stigma and sense of difference, through the pursuit of a politics of equal dignity at both the national and supranational levels. Their claims for recognition would seem to be conducive to post-national and inclusive notions of identity.

In a similar manner, an important thrust of the integration process is the strong pursuit of rights that is spurred and fostered by the institutions at the Union level, in particular the Court of Justice, but also the Commission, and certainly not the least the European Parliament. This thrust covers civil, political, economic, and also social rights. The thrust for equal dignity is promoted not only by the central EU-based institutions but also by various social groups and movements. The sheer diversity of the EU also means that it is still far from clear precisely which institutional level this thrust, if successful, will support. In principle, it can occur (a) through a strengthened harmonisation of national systems of rights; (b) through the establishment of full-fledged European citizenship; (c) through the �Europeanisation� of international rights, in particular those embedded in the ECHR; or (d) through some kind of co-evolution of rights at national, EU and European/international levels.

The most obvious test case is the recently proclaimed Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms which was proclaimed at the Nice Summit in December 2000. The Preamble of the Charter reads as follows:

The peoples of Europe, in creating an ever closer union among them, are resolved to

            share a peaceful future based on common values.

            Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice.

            The Union contributes to the preservation and to the development of these common values while respecting the diversity of the cultures and traditions of the peoples of Europe as well as the national identities of the Member States and the organisation of their public authorities at national, regional and local levels; it seeks to promote balanced and sustainable development and ensures free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, and the freedom of establishment.

            To this end, it is necessary to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights in the light of changes in society, social progress and scientific and technological developments by making those rights more visible in a Charter.

The Charter, as the Preamble states, is based on universal values. There is a consistent effort to locate the EU�s claim to direct legitimacy in universal values rather than in a culturally specific conception of Europe as a community based on a set of unique and �European� values. As such the general and universal nature of the values appealed to are akin to a post-national mode of identity. The European Commission is concerned both with developing rights and with fostering a common culture, whereas the ECJ and probably also the EP are foremost concerned with rights development. Rights development and cultural development are certainly not unrelated, as rights are intended to generate a mutual respect among all rights-holders. Such mutual respect, combined with legal sanctions, contribute to transform cultures, make them reflective and conducive to constitutional patriotism. 

The specific provisions of the Charter reflect the respect for equal dignity. These provisions are intended to ensure the dignity of the person, to safeguard essential freedoms, to ensure equality, to foster solidarity, to provide a European citizenship, and to provide for justice. Chapter One of the Charter is entitled Dignity and contains rights provisions of a civil nature. The Charter also contains provisions on political, social and economic rights. The number and range of rights that are listed is comprehensive (50 articles).

It is noteworthy that although the Preamble spoke of the need to respect the �national identities of the Member States� there is no mention of national identity in the specific articles of the Charter. Article 22 Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity states that �The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.� This must be seen in light of Article 21 Non-discrimination, section 1 of which states that �Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.� Further, section 2 states that �Within the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to special provisions of those Treaty, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.� These provisions confirm that the Charter has been written in the spirit of equal dignity rather than as a means of protecting national or other forms of difference. Article 21, which is derived from the ECHR as well as from the EC Treaties, provides clear limitations on the scope for protecting national identity and culture.

The Charter in its present form is a political declaration and not a legally binding document. Its formal status will be discussed and finally settled by 2004, at the follow-up to the Nice Treaty. However, there are clear indications already that it is more than a mere political declaration. The composition of the convention that drafted it makes it hard to ignore � the majority of the 62 delegates were parliamentarians (15 from the EP and 30 from the national parliaments). Further, the Convention�s proceedings, from the very outset, were directed towards producing a text �as if� it were to be incorporated in the Treaties. This �as if� doctrine clearly inspired the Convention and makes it much easier for the Court to invoke it as a source of legal evidence. It has already been referred to in three opinions of advocates generals. [59] �If a Charter had been prepared solely for the presentation as a political declaration, the general provisions of the draft, which are the most important and the most difficult ones (Chapter VII) would have been superfluous.� [60] The Commission, the EP and the ECJ have asserted that they will refer to the Charter as if it were binding on the EU. Further two legal analysts, Koen Lenaerts, Judge of the First Instance of the European Communities and Eddy De Smijter, have recently stated that

to the extent that the Charter is to be regarded as an expression of the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, the Court will be required to enforce it by virtue of Article 6(2) juncto Article 46(d) EU �as general principles of Community law�. The holistic interpretation given by the Court to the term �common constitutional traditions�, the composition and the functioning of the Convention which drafted the Charter as well as the unanimous acceptance of the text of the Charter by the three EU institutions with legislative powers, may reasonably lead to the conclusion that the Charter be regarded as an emanation of those common constitutional traditions, in the substantive term �constitutional traditions�. The Charter is thus part of the acquis communautaire, even if it is not part yet of the Treaties on which the Union is founded. [61]

The horizontal clauses also specify limits to the application of the Charter. Article 51(2) states that the Charter does �not establish any new power or task for the Community or the Union, or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties.� Further, 51(1) states that the Charter will only be made to apply to the �institutions and bodies of the Union� and only to the Member States �when they are implementing Union law.� The Charter is a collection or compilation of existing rules and practise more than a declaration of new rights and principles. As is also stated in the Preamble, it is a clear example of the co-evolution of legal orders and how the Union draws on a wide range of legal systems and sources, of national, European and international origin. [62] The EU derives important principles from its interpretation of national constitutional traditions. As such it both generalises from these traditions as well as derives normative justifications from them.

The present legal status of the Charter is unclear. This matters less than the fact that most of the provisions are already either entrenched in the treaties or in other bodies of law that the Court of Justice has access to. The Charter is also a powerful demonstration of the self-conception of the EU as a rights-based community actively seeking to develop a post-national identity founded on constitutional patriotism. This development is not without limitations and potential setbacks. Somewhat ironically, precisely the fact that it is based on existing rules may actually constrain it. Further, and in the extension of this, since it is based on existing citizenship rules, it suffers from the same limitations as these. These limitations notwithstanding, it is an important and interesting development, both in symbolic and substantive terms.

IV. Conclusion

The purpose of this article was to explore the question of identity in the European Union with particular emphasis on the question of the emergence of a European identity. This discussion was cast within the framework of the politics of recognition. The politics of recognition highlights how identity politics have become ubiquitous and carried forth by a wide range of carriers, from nationalists to regionalists and social movements, and to individuals. Within the politics of recognition there is a deep tension between the universalist thrust for equal dignity and the particularist thrust for difference and uniqueness, both of which are well-entrenched at international, European, and national levels. The manner in which this tension between equality and difference unfolds today is quite different from that which existed when the national identities of today�s Member States were formed.

This article started from the assumption, that the prospects for a European nation-type identity to emerge are bleak indeed. Instead what was explored was whether we see a reassertion of national identity, or a transformation of national identities, or the emergence of a post-national identity. These questions were discussed by spelling out and discussing four different scenarios, each of which combined a particular institutional configuration of the EU and a particular mode of recognition. All three last scenarios have some relevance in today�s EU. However, there are indications of a major identitive transformation in Europe. National identities are becoming more inclusive and there are signs of an emerging inclusive conception of European identity. The latter is far more akin to a post-national than a national type identity. From what we have seen here both historical and contemporary aspects of the EU give it this post-national thrust.

If this trend towards a European post-national identity is to be sustained a number of mutually supportive and converging developments have to continue and strengthen. First is the continued development and strengthening of the EU. This applies to its institutional structure, its range of operations and its depth of operations. It has to continue to expand into those realms of nation-state activity that are vital to identity formation. However, it does not need to replace those of the Member-States with its own. What matters most is a continued commitment to as well as a legal-political entrenchment of institutions to ensure human rights and democracy. Second, is the continued decline of the ability of nation-states to form exclusive and unique national identities. This does not imply that states cease to form or shape identities but that these will be more inclusive and other-regarding. These two processes are clearly related, in that the latter will not benefit the EU unless the EU is able to fill the gaps left open by this change. Third is the continued strengthening of the international developments that are conducive to both further rights development and peaceful co-operation. The development of a post-national European identity is given added impetus by international legal developments and the manner in which the development of the Union draws on and fuses legal orders at different levels. Fourth is the further strengthening of a European and international civil society. Much of the non-national oriented thrust of the politics of recognition appears to support and carry forward a post-national type of thrust.

There is a trend but it can also be reversed, by global as well as national developments. The Member State still retains the most important traditional mechanisms for socialising its citizens (school systems, a national vernacular etc.) The EU has not undermined these but the context of European co-operation appears to make them more inclusive. It is not clear that the EU needs to equip itself with similar means to foster a post-national identity. Another and related question is whether these socialising mechanisms mean the same today as they did when the nation states were forged. The challenge is to understand how identity formation takes place in the contemporary world. This is as much an intellectual and normative challenge as an empirical one.



Anderson, B. (1991) Imagined Communities, London: Verso.

Archibugi, D., Held, D. and M. Kohler (eds.) (1998) Re-imagining Political Community, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bellamy, R. and D. Castiglione (1997) �Building the Union: The Nature of Sovereignty in the Political Architecture of Europe�, Law and Philosophy 16: 421-45.

Bulmer, S.J. (1996) �The European Council and the Council of the European Union: Shapers of a European Confederation�, Publius 26(4): 17-42.

Curtin, D. (1997) Postnational democracy: The European Union in Search of a Political Philosophy.  The Hague: Kluwer Law.

Delanty, G. Inventing Europe � Idea, Identity, Reality, London: MacMillan 1995.

Eriksen, E. O. and J. E. Fossum (eds.) (2000a) Democracy in the European Union- Integration through deliberation?, London: Routledge.

Eriksen, E. O. and J. E. Fossum (2000b) �The EU and Post-national legitimacy�, ARENA Working Paper, 26/00.

EU �Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union�. 2000/C 364/01. Official Journal of the European Communities, Vol. 43, 18 December 2000.

European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL)

Eurobarometer 42, 1994.

European Commission, 2000. �Communication from the Commission on the legal nature of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union�, Brussels, 11.10.2000. COM(2000) 644 final.

European Women�s Lobby (EWL) �Comments by the European Women's Lobby on the draft Directive amending Directive 76/207 on Equal Treatment for Women and Men�.

Fossum, J.E. (1996) �Group-differentiated Citizenship - A Brief Evaluation�, Bergen, LOS-Senter Notat 9642.

Fossum. J. E. (1999) �Citizenship, Diversity and Pluralism: The Case of the European Union�, in Cairns, A.C., Courtney, J.C., MacKinnon, P., Michelmann, H., and D.E. Smith (eds.): Citizenship, Diversity and Pluralism: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives, McGill-Queen�s Press.

Fossum, J.E. (2000) �Constitution-making in the European Union�, in Eriksen, E. O. and J. E. Fossum (eds.) (2000a) Democracy in the European Union, London: Routledge.

Fossum, J.E. (2001) �Deep diversity versus constitutional patriotism � Taylor, Habermas and the Canadian constitutional crisis�, Ethnicities, forthcoming.

Franklin, M., Marsh, M. and L. McLaren, (1994) �Uncorking the Bottle: Popular Opposition to European Unification in the Wake of Maastricht�,  Journal of Common Market Studies,  32, 4:455-472.

George, S. (1994) An Awkward Partner � Britain in the European Community, 2.ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Habermas, J. (1994a) "Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State" in Taylor, C. and A. Gutmann (eds.) Multiculturalism. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press.

Habermas, J. (1996) Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Habermas, J. (1998) The Inclusion of the Other, London: Polity Press.

Habermas, J. (2001) The Postnational Constellation, London: Polity Press.

Held, D. (1993) Prospects for Democracy: North, South, East, West, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hix, S. (1998) �The Study of the European Union II: the �new governance� agenda and its rival.� Journal of European Public Policy 5(1):38-65.

Hix, S. (1999) The Political System of the European Union, London: MacMillan.

Honneth, A. (1995a) The Struggle for Recognition, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Honneth, A. (1995b) The Fragmented World of the Social: Essays in Social and Political Philosophy, New York: State University of New York Press.

Hutchinson, J. and A. D. Smith (eds.) (1994) Nationalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hutchinson, J. and A. D. Smith (eds.) (2000) Nationalism, Vol. I, London: Routledge.

Ingram, A. (1996) �Constitutional patriotism�, Philosophy & Social Criticism, 22, 6:1-18.

Institute of European Affairs (IEA) (1995) Intergovernmental Conference: Issues, Options, Implications, Dublin: Institute of European Affairs.

Kymlicka, W. (1995) Multicultural Citizenship, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Kymlicka, W. (1998) Finding our Way, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Laffan, B. (1996) Constitution-Building in the European Union, (Dublin: Institute for European Affairs.)

Lenearts, K. and E.E. De Smijter. (2001) �A �Bill of Rights� for the European Union,� Common Market Law Review 38: 273.300.

Linklater, A. (1996) �Citizenship and Sovereignty in the Post-Westphalian State�, European Journal of International Relations, 2(1):77-103.

Lipgens, W. (1982) History of European Integration, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Markell, P. (2000) �Making affect safe for democracy? On �Constitutional Patriotism�, Political Theory, 28, 1:38-63.

Marks, G., Scharpf, F.W., Schmitter, P. and W. Streek (1996) Governance in the European Union, London: Sage.

Middlemas, K. (1995) Orchestrating Europe � The Informal Politics of European Union 1973-1995, London: Fontana Press.

Moxon?Browne, E. (1996) �Citizens and parliaments�, in B. Laffan. Constitution-Building in the European Union, pp. 71-92, Dublin: Institute for European Affairs.

Osterud, O. (1994) Hva er nasjonalisme?, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Rokkan, S. (1975) �Dimensions of State Formation and Nation Building: A Possible

Paradigm for Research on Variations within Europe�, in Charles Tilly (ed), The Formation of National States in Western Europe, 562-600.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ross, G. (1995) Jacques Delors and European Integration, Cambridge: Blackwell.

Sbragia, A. (ed) (1992) Euro?Politics: Institutions and Policymaking in the �New� European Community.  Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.

Schmitter, P. (1992) �Representation and the Future Euro-polity�, Staatswissenschaft und  Staatspraxis, III, 3:379-405.

Schmitter, P. (1996) �Imagining the Future of the Euro-Polity with the Help of New Concepts�, in Marks, G., Scharpf, F.W., Schmitter, P. and W. Streeck.  Governance in the European Union, London: Sage.

Shaw, J. (1999a) �Postnational constitutionalism in the European Union�, Journal of European Public Policy 6:4 Special Issue:579-97.

Shaw, J. (1999b) �Importing gender: the challenge of feminism and the analysis of the EU legal order�, Journal of European Public Policy 7:3 Special Issue: 406-31.

Shaw, J. (2000) �Process and Constitutional Discourse in the European Union�, Journal of Law and Society, 27(1):4-37.

Smith, A.D. (1991) National Identity, London: Penguin.

Taylor, C. (1985a) Human Agency and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, C. (1985b) Philosophy and the Human Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, C. (1989) Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Taylor, C. (1993) Reconciling the solitudes: essays on Canadian federalism and nationalism. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen�s University Press.

Taylor, C. (1994) "The Politics of Recognition" in Taylor, C. and A. Gutmann (eds.) Multiculturalism. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press.

Taylor, C. (1995a) Philosophical Arguments. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Taylor, C. (1995b) Identitet, frihet och gemenskap: Politisk-filosofiska texter i urval av Harald Grimen. G�teborg: Daidalos.

Thornberry, P. (2000) � Call for linguistic rights�, Submission On behalf of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels (27 April 2000) of the Convention which drew up the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Tully, J. (1995) Strange multiplicity � Constitutionalism in an age of diversity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wallace, H. (1993) �Deepening or Widening: Problems of Legitimacy for the EC�, in S.

Garcia (ed.), European Identity and the Search for Legitimacy, 95-105.  London: Pinter.

Weber, Max. (1922/1978) Economy and Society. Vol. 1. Berkeley, Calif,: University of California Press.

Weiler, J. (1995) �Does Europe Need a Constitution? Demos, Telos and the German Maastricht Decision�, in European Law Journal, 1 (3):219-58.

Weiler, J. (1999) The Constitution of Europe �Do the New Clothes Have an Emperor?� and other Essays on European Integration, London: Cambridge University Press.

Young, I.M. (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton: Princeton University Press.






[1] Delanty 1995:viii.

[2] With post-national is meant a political form of identity that is founded on the recognition of constitutionally entrenched democratic values and human rights.

[3] See Rokkan 1975 for a sophisticated 4-stage model of state-formation and nation-building that privileges elites, but encompasses both aspects of from above and from below.

[4] Habermas 2001:99.

[5] See for instance Taylor 1994, Honneth 1995a, 1995b.

[6] For an earlier study that introduced this terminology see Fossum 1999. The focus of that article was not to discuss identity as such but rather to assess how much of Europe�s diversity that was reflected in the EU.

[7] For these terms see Honneth 1995a,b.

[8] Taylor 1994:27, 1995.

[9] Taylor 1994:25,35

[10] For more on this system see for instance Held 1993; Archibugi et al. 1998. There is a vast literature on nationalism, the nation and national identity. For overviews of the different positions, see Hutchinson and Smith 2000, 1994.

[11] Cf. Weber 1978, vol. I.

[12] Anderson 1991:6.

[13] Habermas 2001:64.

[14] Smith 1991:9-15.

[15] Ibid. 12.

[16] Ibid.14.

[17] Osterud 1994:24.

[18] Hutchinson and Smith 1994:3.

[19] the international community has chosen to affirm diversity as an integral part of the corpus of rights. Among many affirmations, I cite the view of the UN Human Rights Committee in General Comment 24 which lists the rights to use one�s own language among norms of international customary law and even peremptory norms.� Patrick Thornberry � Call for linguistic rights�, Submission On behalf of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels (27 April 2000) of the Convention which drew up the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.  

[20] For this term see Habermas 2001.

[21] Cf. Held 1993; Archibugi et al. 1998.

[22] Held 1993:39.

[23] Kymlicka 1995, 1998.

[24] For a brief assessment of the relevance to Canada of Taylor�s notion of recognition, see Fossum 1996, 2001. For an alternative account of recognition and recognition denied, see Honneth 1995a, 1995b.

[25] Young 1990:9

[26] This is most clearly expressed in the three first forms of oppression that Young addresses: exploitation, marginalisation, and powerlessness. All of these relate to how the relations of production reproduce inequality and oppression. Young 1990.

[27] Fossum 1996, see also Young 1990.

[28] Marks et al. 1996:96

[29] Rokkan 1975.

[30] To neo-functionalists the core actors are supranational entrepreneurs and transnational groups, whereas to intergovernmentalists (including liberal intergovernmentalists) they are national governments.

[31] Marks et al. 1996:119.

[32] Depictions of the EU have relied on a wide range of terms that refer to widely different modes of association: (i) federalism (cooperative confederation (Bulmer 1996)  or quasi-federal entity (Sbragia 1992)); (ii) multi-level governance, such as multi-level polity (Marks et al. 1996), mixed commonwealth (Bellamy and Castiglione 1997) or condominio, consortio (Schmitter 1992, 1996); (iii) transition, such as partial polity (Wallace 1993: 101) or post-national entity (Curtin 1997, Eriksen and Fossum 2000a,b); and (iv)  cosmopolitanism (Held 1993; Linklater 1996).

[33] Numerous other classifications of different outcomes of the integration process and depictions of the EU can be found in the burgeoning literature, the most famous of which is the one provided by Phillippe Schmitter (1992, 1996). His four-fold classification is very incisive but it does not explicitly cover identity.

[34] Fossum 2000, Eriksen and Fossum 2000a,b.

[35] Hix 1998:42. 

[36] Weiler 1999.

[37] Moxon?Browne 1996:89.

[38] The empty-chair policy is one such example, �to safeguard �very important national interests��. Middlemas 1995:291.

[39] Delors' Chef de Cabinet.

[40] Lamy in Ross 1995:194

[41] IEA 1995:111

[42] Polling data reveal that Danish support for EC membership remained strong throughout the process of ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. Franklin et al. 1994.

[43] See Weiler 1995:219.

[44] Cf. Tully 1995, Shaw 2000:22, 1999a.

[45] Rokkan 1975:596-7.

[46] Laffan 1996; Marks et al. 1996

[47] Marks et al. 1996:110


[49] IEA 1995:107.

[50] Fossum 2000:130-31.

[51] George 1994:256.

[52] See for instance Article 2 EC, which sees equality as one of the �tasks� of the EU; Article 3(2) EC on gender mainstreaming; and Article 141 in relation to positive action policies (Shaw 2000:408).

[53] Shaw 2000:408.

[54] Comments by the European Women's Lobby on the draft Directive amending Directive 76/207 on Equal Treatment for Women and Men.

[55] Habermas notes that �(t)he political culture of a country crystallizes around its constitution. Each national culture develops a distinctive interpretation of those constitutional principles that are equally embodied in other republican constitutions � such as popular sovereignty and human rights � in light of its own national history. A �constitutional patriotism� based on these interpretations can take the place originally occupied by nationalism.�(Habermas 1998:118) For discussions of this term consult also Habermas 1994, 1996; Ingram 1996; Markell 2000.

[56] See Eriksen and Fossum 2001.

[57] Cf. Lipgens 1982:60-61.  A Eurobarometer survey reveals that Germany had the lowest score among 15 West European countries on questions aimed at tapping national pride. The questions were: National pride is a duty for every citizen (9.25%) and National pride is natural (37.92%) Germany was the only country with less than 50% yes on these two questions. Comparable Norwegian figures were 13.21% and 71.21%, respectively.  Source: NSD Eurobarometer-database: Eurobarometer 42, 1994:1. Germany also had the highest score on the question National pride is dangerous... (13.87%)

[58] IEA 1995:107

[59] Cf. Case C-173/99 BECTU [2001] Opinion of Advocate General Tizzano, 8 February 2001; Case C-279/99 Z v. European Parliament [2001] Opinion of Advocate General Jacobs, 22 March 2001; and Case C-377/98 Kingdom of the Netherlands v. European Parliament and Council of the European Union [2001] Opinion of Advocate General Jacobs, 14 June 2001.

[60] COM(2000) 644 final, 4.

[61] Lenaerts and De Smijter 2001:299.

[62] The specific articles in the Charter are derived from (a)  ECHR: 2, 4-12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 28, 47-50;  (b) ECJ case law: 11, 15-17, 20, 41, 47, 49; (c) EC Treaties: 8, 12, 15, 16, 18, 21-23, 31, 34-46;  (d) social charters: 12, 15, 23, 25-35;  (e) other International conventions: 1, 3, 24, 49;  and (f) the constitutional traditions of the Member States: 14, 20, 37, 48, 49.