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How can we foster a common European identity in the face of resurgent nationalism?

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How can we foster a common European identity in the face of resurgent nationalism?


Pascal Delwit, a professor in Political Science from the Free University of Brussels responds:

“There is a clear link between the increase in nationalist sentiment and the financial, economic and social crisis which began back in 2008. The expansion of the EU has also led to an increase in nationalist feeling.”

He elaborates on the exact nature of the situation Europe is facing across its public sphere:

“Nationalist sentiment can have both positive benefits and negative consequences. What we are seeing at the moment is effectively the development of nationalism born of the individual’s wants and needs. There is a perceived lack of action and initiative on the part of the EU regarding the problems confronting its citizens and this must be addressed by policy, particularly regarding employment and relations between the wealthy and poorer nations in the bloc. But there is no magic formula.”

While there is no miracle solution, research is being done into the kind of projects that might foster greater cohesiveness in the future, according to Mr Delwit:

“Kick-starting a far-reaching programme of construction and development could be key in this respect. Developing infrastructure and installing alternative systems of transport to replace the less-ecologically sound, like air travel, and developing rail freight networks would also translate into jobs for the local community. This would be a lifeline, particularly when unemployment benefits are so low.”

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