Europe’s New Identity
A new cultural phenomenon is emerging in Europe. The Continent’s history of division and hostility is growing dim in the memory of its younger generations, and a new European identity is being conceived.
The European Union has expanded rapidly over the past 15 years. An atmosphere of multiculturalism is building throughout the Continent. Due to a combination of political, economic and legal factors, cross-border travel and relocation within Europe are at their highest levels ever.
This pluralistic, open-border environment is contributing to the creation of a new identity for many Europeans—particularly the younger generations. Younger people are beginning to identify themselves more as Europeans rather than as citizens of their native countries.
“A growing number of young Europeans … study, work and date across the Continent. Unlike their parents, who grew up within the confines of nationhood, they are multilingual and multicultural” (International Herald Tribune, April 26). In today’s Europe, it is not uncommon to hear many within the younger, widely traveled age group say that they are more European than they are German, French or Italian.
Commenting on this phenomenon, political science professor Stefan Wolff stated, “For the first time in history, we’re seeing the seeds of a truly European identity” (ibid.).
In the eyes of EU leaders, this is a positive trend that will only facilitate further European integration. As these young people continue to identify with the idea of a single Europe, their support for a strong and unified European government will intensify. This new group of loyal “Europeans” will seek the stability of one leader, one government, one defense force and one foreign policy. Their allegiance to a unified Europe is certain to drive greater integration within the Continent—especially as they begin to play more of a role in the government of the European Union.
Compare today’s Europe to how it was just 15 years ago and it’s clear that Europe is making huge strides toward integration. This is one of the most important trends you could watch over the coming months and years.