What a feeling?! How to promote ‘European Identity’

Sarah Ciaglia, Clemens Fuest, Friedrich Heinemann

Despite the great achievements for peace and economic prosperity, the European project has recently been challenged with public support being on decline in many member states, culminating in the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the EU. Against this background, this study looks into ‘European identity’ as a concept of fundamental importance for European integration. In the economic literature, ‘identity’ has been increasingly recognized as a crucial driver of individual behavior with joint group identities as a precondition for trustful cooperation. Hence, some type of European identity (in addition to, not replacing national identities) can be regarded as one of the underlying preconditions for the European project.

Against this background, this study develops the contents and nuances of the ‘European identity’ terminology as distinct from other categories like EU support. It empirically describes ongoing trends and comprehensively summarizes the literature’s insights on the important determinants of European identity. On the basis of identified determinants and target groups a classification of measures to promote European identity is developed. This classification is based on the distinctions between a ‘civic’ and a ‘cultural’ European identity on the one hand and between the ‘input’ and ‘output legitimacy’-creating function of potential measures.

Based on this classification and survey of possible approaches for the advancement of European identity we give a broad overview on possible approaches to foster European identity. We elaborate six proposals in more detail: transnational party lists, an EU Citizens’ Assembly, EU consular offices, Pensioners’ Erasmus, a ‘European Waltz’ program, and an EU public service broadcaster.


Sarah Ciaglia, Clemens Fuest, Friedrich Heinemann: What a feeling?! How to promote ‘European Identity’, EconPol Policy Report 9, October 2018.