This brief presents research results on the resilience of European identity to a decade of socio-economic and political crises. It discusses the findings of a case study conducted in France ahead of the 2019 European elections. These confirm pre-2009 conclusions: political identities supporting the European Union’s legitimacy are more likely to relate to civic rights and political values than cultural and ethnic attributes. The analysis also underlines that a European civic identity is being challenged by high levels of resentment and anxiety fuelled by limited opportunities to live up to the expectations it creates.
To make EU citizenship more impactful and inclusive, citizens should be given more decision-making power. Within the broader political debate on the future of Europe, three recommendations would take the EU in the right direction:
- Increase synergies between existing instruments of participatory democracy
- Keep strengthening the European Citizens’ Initiative
- Formalise the role of citizens’ assemblies in EU decision-making
Inclusive and impactful participatory instruments can both strengthen a European feeling of belonging - a European identity - by giving a very concrete meaning to European citizenship, and consolidate EU parliamentary democracy, which remains fledgling.
'I want to be European, but I find it hard to be': Identity between emotions and rights
PLATO Policy Brief no. 3, February 2021