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Europe: more united than we might realise

The 50 most important research questions for the Netherlands

Will we soon live in the ‘united states of Europe?

It depends on how you define ‘united states’, says Christine Neuhold, associate professor in European Union Governance. “People may not always realise it, but in many ways we already live in the united states of Europe. From a legal perspective, for instance, we’re already very much united. European law is binding for national governments. European legislation supersedes national law.” On a political level, too, Europe has great influence. “The European Parliament is a strong player. National governments have had to give up some of their sovereignty in recent years.”

On a cultural level, though, Neuhold thinks the member states of the European Union will always have their own national identity. “You can see that in the United States of America. Texas is a very different state than New York. Music, art, local festivities; these things remain.”

With the latest financial crisis and discussions about the financial situation in Greece, anti-Europe sentiments seem to be growing stronger. “Politicians are now playing to their national electorates. This goes against the principle of solidarity on which the EU is based. Leaders like Helmut Kohl and François Mitterand; they had a European vision. They grew up with the sentiments of World War II still present; they knew that if we don’t work together we might have war again. The EU grew so fast that people have lost track of why we started this union in the first place.”

Nevertheless, Neuhold thinks that future leaders will find that European vision again. “I feel this financial crisis is our new ‘war’. A new generation will suffer from it, then learn from it and take something positive out of it. We’re now at a crossroads and hopefully we’ll turn to more European cooperation. People will benefit from that; they have before and still do. Why else would so many European countries want to become an EU member state? There must be something in it for them.”

People will also start to feel more European, Neuhold thinks. “In my opinion you can feel Dutch and European at the same time. It depends on where you are or what you’re talking about. For instance, in the USA I feel more European than Austrian. Those two personalities can live happily together in one person.”

 

Cleo Freriks

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has listed the 50 most important research questions for the Netherlands. A UM researcher addresses one of these each week.

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