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Posted on July 21st, 2012, by

The concept of a Pan-European identity basically emerged in the result of the growing power of European countries in the world and the growing interaction and integration of European nation-states. At the same time, it should be pointed out that the idea of Pan-European identity is not an absolutely unarguable concept since, in spite of the obvious cultural, economic, political and ideological similarities between European countries, each nation state preserved its own unique culture and traditions. Even nowadays, in the epoch of the European Union, which marks the unity of European countries in economic, political, social and cultural spheres, many nation states tend to emphasize their uniqueness and difference. The latter is particularly obvious in regard to the UK, which traditionally attempts to distance from the continental affairs. Nevertheless, it is necessary to agree that European civilization is the backbone of the contemporary Western civilization and people living in Europe basically share the same moral values, political views, and even similar religious beliefs, while economic integration of European countries has reached its apogee in recent years. This is why it is possible to estimate that the Pan-European identity is a historically formed concept that symbolizes the unity of Europeans and the unity of their cultural and historical heritage.

On analyzing the concept of the Pan-European identity, it is necessary to underline that this concept emerged, when the position of nation states in Europe was still very strong. It should be pointed out that historically Europe was divided into numerous nation states which often had serious conflicts with each others, while the 20th century marked the peak of the conflicts between leading European countries, resulting in two World Wars which made Europe the arena of bloodthirsty straggle between European nation states.

At the same time, the roots of the Pan-European identity may be traced even in ancient epoch when Hellenistic and Roman civilizations became the foundation of the contemporary Western civilization. In fact, in the ancient epoch Hellenistic civilization and Roman Empire tended to unite people inhabiting the Mediterranean region, but they were traditionally associated with Western world and they were often opposed to the Oriental civilization. In such a situation, especially in the epoch of the Roman Empire people inhabiting Europe, which was under the control of Rome, felt their unity and, in actuality, they belonged to the same Roman civilization. Consequently, they had the same cultural identity.

It is not a secret that it was the Roman Empire and Hellenistic civilization that became the basis for the formation of European civilization. It is necessary to underline that their influence was extremely strong and affected practically all countries of the continent. As a result, even during the Middle Ages European states incorporated many common features which they inherited from the ancient epoch. Even permanent feudal conflicts could not prevent Europeans from the formation of the common European identity, which may be viewed as a precursor of the contemporary Pan-European identity. The strength of the unity of European peoples could be easily traced in their religious beliefs since the entire Europe, at least, autochthonic ethnic groups inhabiting Europe, accepted Christianity as the official religion (Veen, 2002). In spite of feudal conflicts, religion united Europeans shaping the common identity. In this respect, the unification of Europeans in their struggle against the Arab invasion, for instance, perfectly proved the fact that they had the common identity. Crusades united Europeans not only in their strife for material enrichment but also in their religious beliefs.

It is necessary to underline that religion produced a profound impact on the formation of the Pan-European identity because Christianity, being the common religion of Europeans, shaped not only their religious views and beliefs, but also their moral values. As a result, it is possible to speak about the formation of cultural unity of Europeans that defined the formation of the Pan-European identity. The cultural unity became particularly strong during the Renaissance and Enlightenment period when progressive ideas, which initially appeared and grew in power in Italy, were steadily spread out throughout the continent (Veen, 2002). In this respect, it is worth mentioning that Europeans readily accepted progressive ideas and the analysis of cultural development of Europe proves the fact that they shared similar values. For instance, it is possible to take into account the development of European music, literature, theatre, architecture, which have a lot of common features that prove the similarity of cultural views of Europeans and, therefore, their common Pan-European cultural identity.

The changes on political and economic level also stimulated the formation of the Pan-European identity. The French Revolution became a very important point in the political and historical development of Europe since it affected the entire continent. This revolution overthrew the monarch and established the republic. Legislative and political changes contributed to the formation of the democratic principles and democratic society. Ideas of the French Revolution were soon spread all over Europe and historically democracy had won in the continent (Rifkin, 2004). As a result, nowadays Europeans share the same political values, while democratic principles and civil rights are milestones of the contemporary Europe and, simultaneously, they are essential components of the Pan-European identity.

The industrial revolution and dramatic socio-economic changes also affected the formation of the Pan-European identity. Being started in England, the rapid industrialization affected the development of the entire continent. The emergence of capitalism shaped the contemporary socio-economic system that defines the life of all Europeans throughout the continent. In this respect, it should be said that in the 20th century, the economic integration of European countries became particularly strong, especially in the second half of the century (Reid, 2004). After the destructive World Wars, economic cooperation and integration of European countries became probably the most important factor that shaped the contemporary Pan-European identity.

To put it more precisely, the economic cooperation between European countries stimulated their political integration, elimination of frontiers and barriers between Europeans (Reid, 2004). The increasing socio-economic cooperation inevitably led to the cultural exchange, while similar religious and cultural background of Europeans naturally enforced the formation of the common identity, which may be defined as the Pan-European identity.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the Pan-European identity was shaped under the impact of various factors that contributed to the unity of Europeans. In fact, the integrative processes had started in ancient times and persist till the present moment. As a result, it seems to be quite natural that Europeans share the same cultural values, political views, have similar economic system, which actually functions as a solid organism. Finally, they have similar religious views. In such a situation, the formation of the Pan-European identity seems to be simply inevitable.

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