Cultural Diversity, European Identity and the Legitimacy of the EU

Cultural Diversity, European Identity and the Legitimacy of the EU

Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series

Edited by Dieter Fuchs and Hans-Dieter Klingemann

As a consequence of various rounds of EU enlargements, the degree of cultural diversity in Europe has intensified – a phenomenon which is increasingly perceived as problematic by many EU citizens. This fascinating book not only empirically explores the current state of the identity and the legitimacy of the EU as viewed by its citizens, but also evaluates their attitudes towards it.

Chapter 1: Cultural Diversity, European Identity and Legitimacy of the EU: A Review of the Debate

Olivier Ruchet

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy


Olivier Ruchet There is nothing more difficult to execute, nor more dubious of success, nor more dangerous to administer, than to introduce a new system of things: for he who introduces it has all those who profit from the old system as his enemies and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new system. (Machiavelli, The Prince, VI, 94) The question of the legitimacy of the European Union (EU) has largely been triggered by what Philippe C. Schmitter once described as ‘the growing dissociation between territorial constituencies and functional competences’1 that characterizes in part the project of European integration. The question has yielded a vast literature over the years, particularly since the publication of the Tindemans report in 1975.2 In this report, for the very first time, the distance between the citizens and the institutions of the European Communities was acknowledged and presented as a source of tension for European integration.3 Since then, the literature, academic and otherwise, has developed in impressive proportions. This chapter presents the different moments and debates of this literature, from portraying the European Union as a ‘superstate’ beset by a strong and multifaceted democratic deficit, to revisionist accounts of the legitimacy question brushing aside such concerns. The chapter argues that these debates, centred in large part on institutional disputes about the legitimacy of an intergovernmental organization, too often overlook the critical dimension of cultural diversity and its political consequences for the governance of an international body – an issue that...

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