Decolonising Europe: Towards a redefinition of European identity

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This thesis will explore the historical bases of European identity, focusing on its cultural-religious component. This choice was motivated by the current tensions between European national cultures and Muslims, despite the presence of this group in European soil for centuries. The main methods used in this thesis were desk research and policy analysis. After extensive research, it was found that there is no historical basis to European identity, mainly because there was no cohesion nor unity among EU nations before the signing of the Treaty of Rome, in 1957. However, according to the Eurobarometer, most EU citizens now identify themselves as European, which hints at the presence of a European identity. This concept has been part of EU official documents and policies since at least 1973, and has evolved from a defence-related, to a political, to a cultural notion. Therefore, this thesis suggests that European identity can transform to properly reflect the EU’s current cultural landscape. Thus, European identity should not be a racialised identity, but a citizenship-based one. It is also proposed to strengthen the already existing political identity and anchor the cultural one to EU values and positive aspects of EU citizenship, without forgetting Europe’s turbulent past.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen