On this edition of U-talk the question comes from Laetitia, from Corsica, France:
“There is talk of European identity. These days we’re told to consider ourselves as Europeans before being French, so I’d like to know what this European identity is and that it really means?”
The response comes from Pascal Delwit, a Professor from the Political Science Department of the Free University of Brussels:
“Across the European Union there are a number of people who promote this idea, both at the EU level and in member states; the idea of an identity, of European citizenship.
“However, it does not mean that European citizenship should prevail, but it could be parallel to national citizenship, and sometimes even regional citizenship. It’s a bit like what happens for many in the United States who feel very strongly American, but at the same time feel a strong connection to their particular state.
“So this citizenship already exists politically, since EU citizens – wherever they live – can now vote in European elections in their country of residence, as well as local elections in the region where they live even if it’s not their home country. For example a Finn living in Corsica can vote in municipal elections in Corsica if he wishes.
“In addition, there are a number of symbols which try – I would say – to promote the idea of European identity and European citizenship; through the European flag, the European anthem… There are also attempts to construct social citizenship and these are more substantial things in material terms, for example, free movement within the Schengen area and of course the euro for those states that have adopted the single currency.
“So this could take us down a path of co-existence of different identities, which is in some cases already the reality. So you can have; European citizenship, national citizenship, regional citizenship and also for some people municipal citizenship – an attachment to a city, town or village of residence is generally something which is important for citizens.”
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