European identity in crisis: What role for the EU?

7 Dec 2016 12:00
7 Dec 2016 14:15

In his 2016 SOTEU address, European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke of an ‘existential crisis’ in Europe in which ‘many [Europeans] seem to have forgotten what being European means.’ His colleague, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, echoed this sentiment when alluding to ‘a need to recreate a feeling of European citizenship’ on the continent, adding however that ‘this is not something the Commission should do.’ Though the EU executive is self-consciously structured to promote supranational interactions and networks across Europe, such statements are in dialogue with critiques of EU governance which point to a lack of an existent demos of European citizens with affective ties to European-level institutions. They likewise evoke arguments that the success of European integration is jeopardized by approaches which emphasize institutional development without sufficient regard for the significance of sociopolitical identities. While the former receives more attention than the latter, the question of identity continues to matter in contemporary Europe, and it is likely to become increasingly critical in the future.

This Policy Forum, bringing together panelists from academia and EU institutions, proceeds from a recognition of the need for scholarly approaches that seek to examine the question of European identity in its multiple dimensions, both theoretical and empirical and within institutional and socio-spatial fields alike. What forms does European identity take as a mode of self-recognition in the 21st century and to what extent can we speak of a European society?

How should scholars distinguish European-ness from other collective identities (e.g. nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalisms, other supranationalisms) and from a mere positive orientation towards European integration? What role, if any, should EU cultural policy play in promoting European collective identity among EU citizens?


12:00 - 12:30 Lunchtime reception
12:30 - 12:35 Welcome, Chair: Prof. Dr. Alison Woodward, Senior Associate Researcher (IES)
12:35 –12:50 Mr Seamus Montgomery, Visiting Researcher (IES)
12:50 - 13:05 Mr Alessandro Senesi, Deputy Head of the Creative Europe Programme, (EC)
13:05 - 13:20 Prof Dr Didier Georgakakis, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (CoE, Bruges)
13:20 - 13:25 Mr Richard Lewis, Senior Research Fellow (IES)
13:25 - 14:00 Discussion; Q&A

Registration and venue

The policy forum starts at 12:00h and will end at approximately 14:00h. A sandwich lunch will be provided between 12:00h and 12:30h. Participation is free of charge and open to all but due to space limitations, registration is mandatory. To register, please fill in the online registration form.

Venue: Institute for European Studies, Pleinlaan 5, Room Rome (floor -1)


Seamus Montgomery
Visiting Researcher
Institute for European Studies

Anamaria Bacsin (Logistics)
IES Events
+32 2 614 80 40
Institute for European Studies