Europeanism is a term that encapsulates the norms and values that Europeans have in common, and which transcend national or state identity. In addition to helping promote the integration of the European Union, this doctrine also provides the basis for analyses that characterise European politics, economics, and society as reflecting a shared identity. Opponents to the idea stress that there are various differences among European groups and that the factors seen as characteristic of this shared culture do not necessarily follow its premise.
A new assessment of Europeanism was sparked by the events leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Widespread public opposition in every major European country (even those such as Britain, Italy, and Spain, whose governments supported the invasion) prompted the 15 February 2003 anti-war protests in London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid and other cities. The philosophers Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida were inspired to write an article for the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which they claimed the birth of a 'European public sphere'. They argued that new values and habits had given contemporary Europe 'its own face', and saw an opportunity for the construction of a 'core Europe' (excluding Britain and Eastern Europe) that might be a counterweight to the United States. Attempting to explain what Europe represented, they listed six facets of what they described as a common European 'political mentality':
- Trust in the state and scepticism about the achievements of markets.
- Realistic expectations about technological progress.
- A low threshold of tolerance for the use of force.
- Multilateralism within the framework of a reformed United Nations.
Expanding the idea
- The decline of identification with the state, the rediscovery of national identities (while repudiating state-based nationalism), and a rethinking of the meaning of citizenship and patriotism. In regard to the latter, pride in country is being replaced with pride in ideas, otherwise known as constitutional patriotism. Identification with nations or states is being increasingly joined with identification with Europe.
- Cosmopolitanism, or an association with universal ideas, and a belief that that all Europeans, and possibly even all humans, belong to a single moral community that transcends state boundaries or national identities. The local and the global cannot be separated or divorced.
- Communitarianism, which - in contrast to the liberal emphasis on individual rights - supports a balance between individual and community interests, emphasising the responsibilities of government to all those who live under its jurisdiction. Europeanism argues that society may sometimes be a better judge of what is good for individuals rather than vice versa.
- The collective society. Europeanism emphasises the view that societal divisions will occur in spite of attempts to ensure equal opportunity, and accepts the role of the state as an economic manager and as a guarantor of societal welfare.
- Welfarism, or a reference to Europeanist ideas that while individual endeavour is to be welcomed, applauded and rewarded, the community has a responsibility for working to ensure that the playing field is as level as possible, and that opportunity and wealth are equitably distributed. Europeanism emphasises equality of results over equality of opportunity.
- Sustainable development, or the belief that development should be sustainable, meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.
- Redefining the family. The place of the European family is changing, with fewer Europeans opting to marry, their ages at marriage rising, their divorce rates growing, their fertility rates declining, more children are being born outside marriage, and single-parent households becoming more usual.
- Working to live. Post-material Europeans are working fewer hours, are doing more with those hours, and have developed family-friendly laws and policies.
- Criminal rights. In matters of criminal justice, Europeanism means a greater emphasis on individual rights, and a preference for resolving disputes through negotiation rather than confrontation through the law.
- Multiculturalism, in which Europe has a long and often overlooked tradition arising from the diversity of European societies, and a Europeanist habit of integrating core values and features from new groups with which its dominant cultures have come into contact. This has been challenged of late by the increased racial and religious diversity of Europe.
- Secularism is probably the one quality most clearly associated with Europe: while religion continues to grow in most of the rest of the world, in Europe its role is declining, and it plays an increasingly marginal role in politics and public life, while heavily influencing Europeanist attitudes towards science and towards public policies in which religious belief plays a role.
- Opposition to capital punishment. This is prohibited in all European Union and Council of Europe member states, and European governments have worked to achieve a global moratorium as a first step towards its worldwide abolition.
- Perpetual peace. Where once Europe was a region of near constant war, conflict and political violence, it is today a region of generalised peace, and one which has made much progress along the path to achieving the Kantian condition of perpetual peace. Inter-state war in the region is alleged to be unthinkable and impossible, even during the worse economic or financial troubles.
- Multilateralism. Europeanism has eschewed national self-interest in favour of cooperation and consensus, of the promotion of values rather than interests, of reliance on international rules and agreements, and of building coalitions and working through international organisations to resolve problems.
- Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, ‘February 15, or What Binds Europe Together: Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in Core Europe’, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31 May 2003. Reproduced in Daniel Levy, Max Pensky and John Torpey (eds), Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe (London: Verso, 2005).
- John McCormick, Europeanism (Oxford University Press, 2010)