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Creating the European Identity

For a long time Europe has been the most powerful continent of the world. It discovered and concurred unknown lands and positioned itselfat the centre of the world. Europe fought and plundered and made the inhabitants of their colonies into slaves. There was nothing that could stop them. The nations within Europe only feared each other, which resulted in a constant rivalry. They fought war after war, and Europe’s geography was constantly changing. They fought for these borders to secure sovereignty and as a constant battle over power. It was only after experiencing the horrors of the world war II that nations within Europe united themselves and shaped the European Union (EU) to secure peace within Europe.

Nowadays the European Union (EU) is grown into a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located in Europe, with an estimated population of over 510 million. According to Cameron the main goal of the EU is shifted from securing peace into creating prosperity. The reason of this change is the change in the global position of Europe. No longer are they the political and economic world power. The greatest threats is no longer within Europe but from the outside. Europe is competing against nations all around the globe to secure their wealth. The EU is there because only an United Europe can form a front against other big nations as America, Russia or China.

The political-economic unionhas given form to an internal single marketthrough a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. These policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. In 1999 they even went one step further by composing the eurozone. This is a monetary union of 19 of the 28 EU member states which have adopted the euro as their common currency.

This concept political-economic union, whereby country borders should dissolve, should secure the wealth within Europe. The dream of one united Europe that is working together as a whole shattered when the financial crisis presented itself. It became clear that the basis of the concept wasn’t thoroughly examined. With one currency they became dependent on each other, but did not have the power to interfere in other national politics. Greece made this clear all too well. A lot of European citizens where shocked to see what was happening to Greece and how this corruption could infectall of them.

The financial crisis opened the eyes of European citizens, they became aware of the fact that the political-economic frame of the union made them dependable. This was something that most nations didn’t feel comfortable with. They don’t want to compromise their position for Europe, especially when some of the nations turned out to be corrupt. This steers the EU near a tipping point, either the EU should get more power and a solid position so that they could punish certain national policies or there should be less EU.

Britain plead for the second solution. They want Europe to work together, but only if it is in their best interest. It should be like a business deal whereby both parties benefit. Cameron made this very clear during the Bloomberg speech, when he stated that he wants a better deal for Britain and that the EU should more act like a cooperation instead of a political union. He wants a system where Britain is free to make their own decisions, free from obligations. In the end British citizens decided that they do not longer wanted to be part of the European Union, they wanted a Brexit. But not only British citizens want a better deal, all over Europe, populist parties, that are against a growing involvement of the EU, are growing, and they to question the role of the EU.

This makes clear that al lot of people in Europe don’t see themselves as European citizens. They define themselves within national borders. Part of this is to blame on the national government, that always points their finger at the EU. According to the national government they are responsible for all their problems. Everything that is gone wrong is due to the controlling laws that are posed on them. But the disconnection of European citizens is also caused by an almost nonexistent European public sphere and their invisible Identity. If the EU wants to strengthen European solidarity and the feeling of togetherness, it should improve on both points.

The first step is to Europeanize the public Sphere, this is easier said than done. One of the main obstacle being the language barrier. This seems to make it impossible to have a common widespread media. They have tackled this by creating the EurActiv, a media-platform with European centre topics article translated into 12 languages. They work together with newspapers all over Europe such as The Guardian, Der Tagesspiegel and La Tribune. The downside is that in 2015 they only had 794,992 viewers a month. To compare this with the Guardian, who states that their

average daily sale is up to 187,000 print copies. The existence of the EurActiv at least symbolise the intention of the EU to create a community of communication, in which they are more transparent toward their citizens. But a good community of communication asks for national media to cover European topics, countries to regularly observe, report and comment about one another with regards to European affairs, don’t report about European citizens as foreigners and develop a common European perspective in which citizens could address issues of European concern.

So language isn’t their greatest problem, it is creating a common European perspective. The root of this problem lays within the non-existing Europe Identity. According to Rem Koolhaas this is not accidental. They verycarefully positioned themselves as invisible. You could even see this by looking at the architect of their buildings. The reason being that they fear hostility if they pose themselves too much upon the nations. The EU is familiar with the desire of the nations for sovereignty and their fear of the EU to jeopardise theirindividual position. By being invisible they try reassure nations that they will not be swallowed up by them. For that reason it is not strange that the motto of the EU is "United in diversity". This should signify how Europeans have come together, in the form of the EU, to work for peace and prosperity, while at the same time being enriched by the continent's many different cultures, traditions and languages. Koolhaas describes this motto "United in diversity" as beautiful facade with building behind it that exist out of all different styles that does not form a whole, whereby every part is at another building stage. Europe is as a building that is still under construction.

If the European Union wants to gain a solid position within Europe, they should become visible, by addressing their identity. It is important that this identity goes beyond a pile of political correct statements and empty slogans. Having a history is important because it determines the way in which people preserve the future. It is as Ernest Renan said : ‘‘There can be no nation without a collective heritage and no heritage without appropriation by the nation.’’ One of the constitutive principles of a nation and the EU is the shared possession of a rich legacy of memories.