Europe in Search of Europeans   /   Spring 2014   /    Europe In Search Of Europeans

Generation Europe

Petra Huyst

Five euro bank note around 2008; Wikimedia Commons.

Generation Europe enjoys all of the advantages of the EU but shares little of a sense of European identity with older generations.

“We must go back to teach Europeans to love Europe,” said Luxembourg's former prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, in 2004. His words are just as true today.

The champions of European integration have certainly made a steady effort to connect Europe with its citizens. During the 1970s there was much talk about a People's Europe, and the European Council, meeting in 1984 in Fontainebleau, France, bandied about the idea of using symbols, myths, and celebrations to strengthen and develop European identity. Talk was followed by concrete actions, including the creation of a European flag and a European anthem. But the persistence of a gap between Europe and its citizens was painfully evident during the protracted struggle to win ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, which introduced the euro and established the various institutional pillars of the European Union.

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