Thursday, July 9, 2015
S14 (13 rue de l'Université)
The inclusion of ten new member states from the former Eastern bloc constitutes a significant challenge to the European Union (EU) in many aspects. In terms of political identities, the consequent diversification of the EU has been sometimes portrayed as fatal for the prospects of a European political community. Did the Eastward enlargement make impossible the emergence of a common European identity? This paper seeks to answer this question through a comparative analysis of European identity in the old and new EU member states by looking at both the elites and the citizens. Our findings indicate that while elites are quite similar in terms of their identification with Europe, there is an important difference in the cognitive and affective aspects of identification between the old member states and the CEE new members. Namely, while citizens of Central and Eastern European countries are just as attached to Europe and the European Union (affective dimension) as their western counterparts, they do not “feel” or consider themselves European (cognitive aspect) to the same extent as citizens in the old member states do. We argue that the citizens in East have not yet internalized the feeling of being European due to their short experience as citizens of the Union. Using new data for elites and public opinion, our findings suggest that generational change might be crucial to overcoming these differences.