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Imagining Europe as a Global Player

The Ideological Construction of a New European Identity within the EU


Christoffer Kolvraa

This book argues that since 2001 the primary discursive context for articulating a European identity within the EU has increasingly become the idea of a common foreign policy for Europe. A new grand project of making Europe a true global player is being put forth and it is this as yet unrealised ideal that European citizens are now being asked to identify with.
The author examines European identity as an ideological construction that seeks to elicit emotional and affective attachment to the political project of realising a utopian ideal. He unravels the discourses involved in the construction of European identity by drawing on theories and methods from discourse analysis, the study of political myths, narratology and psychoanalysis. The European Neighbourhood Policy is studied in detail, with a focus on the dynamic challenges that ensue when grand ideological statements have to be implemented in a concrete and specific context.


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PART II UNITY IN DIVERSITY EUROPE 63 CHAPTER 2 European Values The Semantics of a Nodal Point DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inher- itance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the in- violable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. (Constitutional Treaty 2004: Preamble) The passage quoted above is the first paragraph of the preamble to the ill-fated “Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe”. It is as such the very first statement that meets any reader of this EUropean attempt at a foundational legal document1. This serves as a first indicative support of the claim which I will make below; that the concept of “Eu- ropean values” functions as a nodal point when the identity of Europe is constructed as that of an internal project of continental integration. The nodal point of “European values” underpins a construction of Europe as a community which, although concretely manifested in the institutions of the EU, is always held to go beyond – to be deeper – than this far from perfect institutional reality. Within this Unity in Diversity con- struction of European identity, the European values do indeed display the peculiar characteristics of a nodal point: They prove notoriously hard to conclusively define, yet are seemingly uncontested none the less. The values apparently are always relevant, always positive, and always beyond question; they are the mysterious Cosa Nostra of the communi- ty; what ultimately defines us, even if we never...

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