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European integration, identity, and national self interest: The enduring nature of national identity

Tyler R White, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In the 1950s as European integration begun a group of scholars called the neofunctionalists suggested that as political and economic institutions were created, technical spillovers from integration would result in a new ‘European identity.’ More than 50 years later, Euroenthusiasts have touted the EU as being the institution that will bring Europe together and create a unified ‘European identity.’ While many elites and technocrats feel a closer association to ‘Europe’ there is little evidence that identities are changing as a result of European integration. This dissertation analyzes historical, academic, and journalistic accounts to look for evidence that European integration is indeed changing national narratives and identities. I find that national identities are much more durable than Euroenthusiasts thought they would be. I also find that support for the EU and EU institutions is based on perceived self-interest and not on the promise of a new European narrative or identity. The implications of this research are clear: As integration continues European leaders need to be comfortable with the idea that they do not necessarily need to change identities to ensure the future of the EU. The EU has created an impressive set of national symbols of its own, a flag, an anthem, and even holidays, but identity change takes time, and there are no guarantees that Europeans will ever give up their national identities.^

Subject Area

Political Science, International Relations|Political Science, General

Recommended Citation

White, Tyler R, "European integration, identity, and national self interest: The enduring nature of national identity" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3398349.