RECON Online Working Paper 2011/25

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Dimensions of a European Constitutional Patriotism


Mattias Iser (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main)




In this paper I deny the claim that the European Union is not and cannot be a political community based on a strong sense of solidarity between its members. The influential position that I critically discuss states that such solidarity would have to rely on sovereign law enforcement based on shared characteristics (such as a common culture or language) – all of which is and should (from a normative point of view) remain missing in Europe. In defending the possibility of a European constitutional patriotism I explore its different dimensions, namely a procedural and a substantial one. In the procedural dimension we confront the question which institutions and what kind of experiences (e.g., commonly confronted challenges) could heighten the awareness of citizens to be engaged in a common political project. In a substantial dimension we have to ask what kind of European policies could (and should) generate pride in its citizenry. With regard to this substantial dimension I draw a further line between an internal and a transcending perspective. An ‘internal’ perspective highlights the additional value of a politically strong Europe for its own citizens. A ‘transcending’ perspective emphasizes the role of the EU in creating a new world order and thus focuses – quite ambitiously – on the benefits a strong Europe might bestow on humanity as such. However, as attractive as the transcending perspective might sound for all those who are moved by an urgent sense of cosmopolitan justice, it also entails a danger. Such a perspective may try to idealize the reality of European power politics in order to create a shared identity. Yet, constitutional patriotism denotes a critical attitude: We should only feel pride in a political order that deserves it. 




Constitutional Patriotism ― European Union ― European Integration ― New World Order ― Political Community 


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