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Nationalism in Europe

Autor:   •  December 18, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,566 Words (7 Pages)  •  245 Views

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This essay will present the argument that European integration has facilitated the rise of nationalism as a result of the 2007-9 financial crisis. The expansion of the EU has demonstrated the salience of identity issues and hostility amongst democratic countries throughout Europe. The ambiguity of the EU’s efficiency to manage the sovereign debt crisis lead to many implications for the political, economic and social life of Europeans. The rise of Eurosceptism throughout Western countries such as France have galvanized the legitimacy of right-wing, pro-nationalist political parties such as Frances Front National. Furthermore, the global refugee crisis and Islamist extremism sparking a number of terrorist attacks across Europe has provided parties such as Front National to gain further support which has subsequently lead to a lack of interest towards integration.

The founders of the EU initially envisioned that the institution would act as a single state consisting of smaller nation-states with the potential to develop an identity that was embraced by all members. However, many theorists argue that the European identity would overcome the identity implications entrenched by individual nation-states. Deutsch’s thesis demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of national identity which suggests that each national identity is constructed on the basis of historical and cultural solidarity.

This perspective is associated with a collective identity, referring to a socially constructed concept meaning that it emerges as an intentional or unintentional reaction to social interactions of within a specific environment. Nationalism is synonymous with the concept of collect identity. Fligstein describes collective identities as ‘the idea that a group of people accept a fundamental and consequential similarity that causes them to feel solidarity amongst themselves’. This view describes collective identity as a socially constructed concept meaning that it emerges as an intentional or unintentional reaction to social interactions of within a specific environment. Anderson argues that ‘nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist’. This idea of construction of nationalism and identity is relevant to the conception of a European identity as it challenges federalism and supra-nationalism but would also be difficult for individuals to connect with a European identity in addition to a national one. This argument was highlight by Fligstein who stated that ‘EU integration is a process that theoretically could produce a new type of supra-nationalism, which could supersede and repress nationalism’ doesn’t take into the account the fact that individuals will always connect with a sense of local community over a major one such as the European Union. Furthermore, as mentioned previously national identity is based on primordial values which are associated with suffering, hardship and narrative that the nation has experienced which unites a community rather it being decided.

During the period of the Euro crisis, the EU was unable to formulate practical solutions that took into account the suffering of citizens in the countries affective the most. Citizens in wealthy countries understood these problems as of their own making which sparked nations to look within for solutions and decreased a sense of European solidarity. The Euro zone crisis of 2009 brought new challenges to the concept of European integration as many political leaders questioned the Germany’s ability provide support for weak countries demonstrating a fundamental shift in the EU’s power resulting in ‘Eurosceptic’ sentiment. Germany’s insistence on fiscal austerity within the EU’s emerging post-crisis agenda which galvanized ideas of isolationism and hostility towards the institution. The underlying political, economic and social causes of the Eurozone crisis suggest that the crisis rejects practical solutions that benefit member states and instead can be identified somewhere in between a state and international institution transforming nations states into member states in order to redefine national sovereignty and citizen entities. Therefore, the EU struggles to overcome a problems such as Greek debt, which effectively challenge the notion of integration itself. Many citizens have lost faith in the EU’s capacity to successfully implement practical solutions to these international issues which has lead them to lose support in European integration. This undermines any potential sense of a European collective approach. In countries where the crisis was more severe, citizens would see this European austerity solution as evidence that they were not European. In 2013 the Pew Research Centre stated that pro-integration opinion declined from 60 to 45 percent between 2005 and 2013 during the peak years of the crisis. Furthermore, the refugee crisis, with its millions of people fleeing war, in addition to those migrating to Europe for economic reasons, triggered an acceleration of conflicting perspectives among the European member states such as Iceland who dropped its intentions of joining the EU. When German Chancellor Merkel open the gates of Germany to the millions of refugees fleeing Syrian conflict she created a distance between Germany and other member states in Europe in addition to dealing with the euro financial crisis, potentially leading to lack of support of European integration and states to turn inwards with far right


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