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The Eurozone Crisis and the European Union's Identity Crises

Ioanna Ntampoudi

Several commentators of the Eurozone crisis observe that the EU is not only going through a financial and political crisis, but also an 'identity crisis', or even an 'existential' one. This paper argues that there are four distinct, yet interrelated ways of interpreting the current identity crisis of the EU. The first concerns the international standing of the EU as a proclaimed global agent of peace, democracy, welfare and prosperity, which is undermined by its inability to provide these goods to its own citizens, let alone the rest of the world. The second kind of identity crisis relates to the EU's qualitative direction, centred on the question of whether we now face a more technocratic EU, rather than a democratic and social one. In a third sense, the rise of nationalist sentiments, undiplomatic exchanges between EU citizens based on cultural stereotypes and sharp divides between North and South have contributed to the reconfiguration of prototypical meanings of both national and European identities. Ultimately, all of the above culminate in the fourth dimension of identity crisis, related to the internal consistency and citizen support for continuous and further integration, legitimised through the notions of unity and solidarity. In the conclusion, reflections are offered regarding the future of European integration and the role of the EU in international affairs.

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