Imagining the European Union : A geo-historical overview of dominant metaphors on the EU’s political geography

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In this thesis, I analyse and review dominant metaphors on the European Union’s political geographical nature. Since the establishment of the ECSC, scholars, politicians, EU-bureaucrats and the media have been trying to name and describe the nature of this unidentified political object. I focus especially on the EU’s territory, which has been constructed, conceptualized and imagined. The so-called agents of European consciousness have given meaning to the political territory of the European project. During the past 60 years, territorial transformations have been intensive in Europe. Many different metaphors have therefore been used to describe the EU’s nature. Commonly used metaphors are the United States of Europe, Europe of the regions, new medieval Europe, fortress Europe, and Europe as an empire. I explain and review these metaphors in this thesis; moreover, I show that they have all been constructed within their own social, economic and political circumstances, and that they are part of a broader development of thinking about the project Europe. Since the establishment of the ECSC, the project Europe has been evolving towards a state at the European level: a United States of Europe. The European integration process has therefore been characterized by an aim to weaken the position of the member states and to erase national borders. The European Commission therefore increasingly focused on regions during the 1980s and 1990s, and the European project was therefore often described as a Europe of the regions or a new medieval Europe. The creation of a common market with economic and social cohesion was followed by acts and policies to demarcate, border and protect the common European space. This has inspired scholars, politicians, the media and artists to describe the EU as a fortress Europe. Especially scholars have conceptualized the EU’s attempts to govern external territories, in order the keep its own internal space safe and stable, as a Europe as an empire. The metaphors are thus not isolated concepts but part of a development of constructing and naming the European project in which the project seems to evolve towards a replication of the nation-state.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen