Europe, What Now?

Caroline Kistrup Vallys

Student thesis: Master thesis


The financial crisis has affected the cohesion of the European Union on many levels. The crisis especially demonstrated that a great number of countries hang on to their national identities, which cannot be completely replaced by a European identity. Why is this the case?
Our historical, political, economic and cultural baggage is too different. It appears to be unrealistic and impossible to overcome all the differences and create a common identity in the European Union in the short term, but in the long run one could imagine that it would be possible to create the contour of a European identity.
The collective trauma from the Second World War with all its horror has been the basis for creating the European Union, but today still fewer people have personal memories of the war, and a new trauma has occurred. The financial crisis with its high unemployment rate, social disorder and rising inequality.
There was no manual ready when the financial crisis arrived in Europe in 2008. Since then, there have been numerous initiatives to prevent future crises and to protect the banking system, which demonstrated its fragile construction. It has resulted in several spill overs, where particularly the Fiscal Compact Treaty is interesting. It is a further step closer to a formal national competence, the fiscal policy.
The countries were affected in different ways and especially the PIIGS countries. It quickly escalated to a division between North, South, West and East where prejudice blossomed on each side and still does today. Greek newspapers drew Angela Merkel with a Hitler moustache in SS- uniform with an armband with the European symbol and the swastika, and the Greeks are called lazy and corrupt, a nation who seems to be on holiday on the Germans accounts. It is dangerous stereotypes and provides the populistic and nationalistic parties with favourable conditions for their battle against the European Union and “the others”.
The crisis pheromones tell loud and clear that a majority of the European population is turning against the Union and respond to national culture and identity. The predictions for the European- Parliament election in 2014 were that populistic and nationalistic parties would be very popular. In order to prevent this, a group of different European cultural personalities gathered to create a new discourse about the European Union, the charter “A New Narrative for Europe”. It gathered Jürgen Habermas’ political and Dieter Grimm’s cultural narrative. It was a strong, qualified message, but the performance was too elitist and intellectual. This gave the sceptics more fuel to their case, which showed in the European-Parliament election in 2014, where populistic and nationalistic parties stormed ahead and likewise in the national elections afterwards.
Some of the big winners of the European-Parliament election in 2014 were Great Britain, France, Germany, Denmark and Greece, the latter sending three neo-Nazis to the European-Parliament. This is at tendency which many would not have believed to be possible after the Second World War. The result was, however, that only 110 out of 751 parliamentarians are definite sceptical towards the European Union. The big established positive parties collaborate across the middle to exclude the sceptical parties, who between themselves have a hard time working together.
The European-Parliament election was not the only shift in 2014. A new President of the Commission was found due to the new statement in The Lisbon Treaty, which led to the election of the Brussels veteran Jean-Claude Juncker by the majority in the European-Parliament.
The sceptics continue to be sceptical, and the supporters continue to be positive. These two wings do not appear to meet in the middle and find a compromise. It is either way. The previous French President Charles de Gaulle might have the answer with his inter-governmental collaboration “Countries of Europe”, where the countries keep their national identity and only collaborate regarding certain areas, which are in common interest, a solely political collaboration.
A crisis can make solidarity grow or it can tear it apart. If the current situation with an economic crisis, a crisis with Ukraine, a refugee crisis and the possible Brexit 23 of July cannot create solidarity and cohesion, what does it take then?

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages79