Bringing Europe Down to Earth

University dissertation from Department of Political Science, Lund University

Abstract: Why is it considered more European to vote in the affirmative of the Euro than it is to vote against it? Why is not possible to be a populist and a ?Good European? at the same time? What makes an illegal immigrant different from a tourist? These questions all concern the limits of what it means to be, act and think as Europeans in Europe. In the political process of bringing the nations and peoples of Europe together, Europe is imagined as a distinct community. The aim of this study is to analyse contemporary articulations of what makes Europe ?Europe? in the context of the political project of the EU. Elaborating on the correlation between articulations of a certain European identity and the politics of European integration, this thesis combines theories and perspectives of identity construction with theories that, more explicitly, deal with mechanisms of power and repression as immanent in any societal formation (i.e. discourse theory). By bringing Europe down to earth, the author highlights contradictions and tensions that are inherent in our perceptions of what makes Europe ?Europe?. In a first step, the study emphasises how knowledge of what makes Europe ?Europe? is reproduced in a ?constitutive split? between the positions of ?Europe? and ?the nation?. The analysis suggests that this relationship of mutual dependency further constrains the possibility of articulating alternative positions. Bringing Europe down to earth, in this perspective, means to underline the continuity between past attempts to imagine nation-states and current endeavours to articulate a certain European identity that knit together Europeans with a distinct notion of a European community. In a second step, the author focuses on contemporary labelling processes that separate ?us? (the Europeans) from them ?them?, the ?not-Europeans?. This dissertation includes analyses of domestic referenda on EU-related issues, the transformation of the EU into an area of freedom, security and justice and finally also the relation between Brussels and populism. The identity-making enterprise that takes place in the name of Europe is not merely about the making of spatial demarcations of where Europe ends or who is to become a European citizen and who is not. The question of what makes Europe ?Europe? is expressed also inside the territorial borders of the enlarged Union as manifest in a series of constitutive splits that separate between ?Good Europeans? and ?Bad Europeans?; between ?Good strangers? and ?Bad strangers?; between friends and foes. In his analysis of EU-elite rhetoric, the author infers that the European integration process is attached with a certain logic of irrevocability that trigger the development further, despite a lack of popular support. The project of bringing Europe down to earth encourages us to remove the question of Europe from the realm of historic necessity to the sphere of politics.