På sporet af en fælles europæisk identitet: En komparativ analyse af den danske og franske nationsdannelse som led i undersøgelsen af en eksisterende europæisk identitet

Kirsten Hostrup-Møller

Student thesis: Master thesis


As the European Union (EU) has developed over the last 50 years, the attempt to establish an even closer co-operation within the area of economy, law and culture has been made. However, the co-operation has become more difficult within the last couple of years, where the member countries have had difficulties ratifying a new treaty. The problems are connected to the cultural aspect of the EU. The European cultural symbols like the flag, the anthem, the common currency etc. are not in the new treaty (Lisbon Treaty), because France and Holland voted no to the Constitutional Treaty in 2005. The cultural symbols have been replaced with abstract values like human rights. Yet, the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty has not succeeded. The ratification process of the Lisbon treaty has shown to be more difficult than removing cultural symbols. At the moment, 25 countries have approved the treaty without a referendum, one country has chosen a referendum of the treaty (resulted in an Irish no) and one country is missing ratification (the Czech Republic). This lack of agreement shows the lack of common ground and a common European identity. Even though the idea behind the EU should be based upon the French idea of nation building, the EU co-operation has not resulted in a union with a status like a nation with a common identity. The Danish and French nation building models can be used to highlight the differences in construction and explain, why the EU has not yet succeeded in constructing a common European identity. Danish and French nation building are two opposites. The Danish nation was formed on the basis of a long history, where national symbols have developed over time, which is the ethnosymbolic thought – la longue durée. The Danish nation is based upon a combination of culture and political rights, because of the long history and the Danish constitution. The constitution states the cultural and political aspects of the Danish society by mentioning the king, the church and the civil rights. The French nation is the opposite of the Danish nation, because it is constructed not formed on its own. The French nation was constructed in connection with the French Revolution. This was done by the elite – a top-down model, which is the constructivistic thought. This construction is defined as a nation based purely on political rights. Nevertheless, the French symbols have a link to the revolution and the time before the revolution. This means that the French nation is not only a political nation, but also a cultural nation. European identity has not yet succeeded because the European population do not feel connected to the co-operation. This was shown in a Eurobarometer study. Where the European population expressed their attitude towards the EU and their feeling of belonging. The European population feel more national conscious than European conscious. Therefore, it is not possible to build a co-operation only on constitutional patriotism with abstract values. The symbols and values should have a historical link, giving them contents and meaning for the European population. However, with time it might be possible to build a European identity, because the common history of the union is still developing. However, the European elite has to get the population more involved in the co-operation and create a feeling of belonging. Only time will tell, whether it is possible to develop a common political and cultural European identity.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages76