A couple of questions I want answered:
1. Is there a European identity, more than one European identity or just national identities?
2. Who exactly shares this identity/these identities?
Firstly I think we need to look at two things, what does identity really mean and what exactly is a European?
What is a European?
Someone who holds a European passport? Someone of European heritage? Someone who shares a set of basic common values within the specified geographical region?
If a second generation immigrant who holds European passport but still holds true their parents values (cultural or otherwise) are they to be considered a European and accepted as one?
What is identity?
While books have been written on the subject ultimately the concept is rather simple, identity is the way in which one sees themselves and considers themselves to fit/affiliate with certain groups with shared values. This could be anything from a child identity, adult, political, national, cultural, sub-cultural, race, ethnicity etc.
What are the basic shared European values?
Europe has many languages, different cultures and deep, rich history and while its citizens hold many different opinions and perspectives as represented by the vast swath of political parties across the many nations there are some basic common values that are not (unfortunately) global.
1. You are free to express your thoughts and opinions without repercussion.
This means if you say the prime minister is an arsehole or that god doesn’t exist no-one will put you in prison or kill you.
2. Welfare, Europeans accept that there must be at least a basic level of welfare to look after those who can’t look after themselves. Be it for the unemployed or those with children, education, healthcare etc.
3. If you are tolerant, you will be tolerated. If you are intolerant you will not be tolerated. People are not discriminated against because they are female, black, white etc. People are treated the same.
4. Justice, again people are treated equally and penalised equally.
5. Democracy, enough said.
6. Willingness to adapt and integrate into the European values.
There is something else about the European that must be mentioned but however seemingly cannot be put into words, a feeling, a clear sense of understanding yet not able to be articulated into words. A sense that one can easily identify a European and a non-European.
Back to the original questions…
Is there a European identity, more than one European identity or just national identities?
Yes, there is a European identity, there are also clear divisions within that identity for example:
The Mediterranean identity
The Eastern European identity (or Slavic identity)
The central European identity
The Nordic/Scandinavian identity
Who exactly shares this identity/these identities?
A line can be drawn on the map, starting at the top with Finland to the west and Russia to the east of that line going south keeping the Baltic states on the west and Russia still on the east. Following down from the Baltic states keeping Poland on the west and Belarus on the east, continuing south keeping Slovakia on the west and Ukraine on the east. Following down the Black sea keeping Greece on the west and Turkey on the east.
The rest of the European countries are in (including the Republic of Cyprus).
Having lived in China and Turkey it is very clear that these countries are not European, that may be obvious straight from the outset or it may not be.
A part of identifying what is European is identifying what is not European.
China aside lets focus on Turkey, it borders the European and Asian continents and for some time now has been trying to get into the European Union. However this is definitely not a ‘European’ country, with corruption sky high and a complete lack of democracy or respect for the rights of individuals. Funding pulled for the arts for insulting the PM’s daughter, government officials saying publicly that women should kill themselves rather than have an abortion and blaming women if they get raped stating that they obviously provoked the man/men to do it.