RECON Online Working Paper 2011/37

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European Identity as Commercium and Communio in Transnational Debates on Wars and Humanitarian Military Interventions


Cathleen Kantner (University of Stuttgart)



In the discussion on the prospects for democratic reform in the European Union, a collective European identity features prominently among the preconditions of greater democracy. The lack of a common European identity in the realm of foreign, security and defence policy has often been lamented. This paper contributes to this discussion by distinguishing conceptually between two dimensions of collective identity: the pragmatic problem-solving dimension of being members of a commercium on the one hand, and the ethical dimension of being members of a communio on the other. This paper also presents data from a long-term, cross-national empirical investigation of the issue. Do the ‘Europeans’ refer to themselves as Europeans when speaking from the participant perspective? If they do, what do they mean – the EU as a problem-solving commercium or an ethical communio? The paper presents analyses of a full sample of 489,508 newspaper articles on wars and humanitarian military interventions published in the leading conservative and liberal newspapers of six EU member states, and the US as a comparative case, between January 1990 and March 2006. While most of the scientific discourse centres around the communio-dimension, I highlight the importance and empirical presence of the commercium-dimension of European identity.



Common Security and Defence Policy — Commercium — Communio — European Identity — European Public Sphere — Humanitarian Interventions — Military Interventions — Transnational Political Communication


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