The feeling of being European

The feeling of being European

There are many interpretations and classifications for the concept of Europeanization. According to several researchers, the increase in studies on this concept was the result of the enlargement of the European Union and the evolution of the European integration process. Linking Europeanization with the European Union is the most frequent of interpretations.

The most quoted definition it is from Ladrech, according to which Europeanization represents “an incremental process reorienting the direction and shape of politics to the extent that European Commission political and economic dynamics become part of the organizational logic of the national politics and policy-making”. Radaelli argues that Europeanization is a process of construction, diffusion, and institutionalization of rules, ideas, policies and ‘ways of doing things’ that are consolidated by the European Union and then incorporated into the domestic sphere of States. Many definitions of Europeanization place the European Union at the center of the debate. In this sense and taking into account that the European Union has given this concept a more structured meaning, Europeanisation is sometimes understood as “EU-ization” or “EU-fiction”, concentrating its focus on the pressures emanating from the EU on Member states.

Other researchers describe Europeanization as a two-way process: on the one hand, changes in social and institutional structures occur through the pressures of the institutions of the European community in the policies and internal decisions of the countries involved. And on the other hand, Europeanization takes place in parallel with the increase of interdependencies. In a way, Europeanization is described as a bilateral process, where the direction of European policies is influenced both by the European Union and by the member states, as Radaelli says: “Member states upload their preferences to Brussels via complex negotiations and download them from various EU policy menus” among European states.

This concept in Political Science has been referred to as “becoming more European as”. Europeanisation occurs when states begin to affect European Union policy in a given area. One obvious area for change lies in the institutions of Europe: the enlargement of the European Union and the gradual acquisition of authority over national governments, members in various areas and the creation of a centralized European policy. The Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union is an example of this: in this case, nations that use the euro pass control of their monetary policy to the European Central Bank.

This can also happen in many other ways, and Education is inevitably given a central role in this process, including official EU programs such as student exchanges under Erasmus, or the European Schools Network, in the sense of work together and jointly in the promotion of events such as the European Year of Sport. They also include more bottom-up initiatives such as the creation of the European Higher Education Area or the Bologna Process. And beyond the formal and educational arenas, we cannot, of course, ignore such crucial Europeanization events as the European Championships and the Champions League in the field of sports initiatives, not to mention the Song Festival. According to a study from the Eurobarometer in 2017:

 

The Case of Romania

After the fall of communism, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe became potential members of the Union. A key moment for the start of the process in Romania was the signature of accession to the European Union in 1995. The declaration establishes a national strategy to prepare the country for EU integration. Romania’s desire to “be part of Europe” can be explained by the need to get out of isolation and by the need to get out of anonymity and spread the culture itself. In the case of Romania and most of the countries of Eastern Europe, Europeanization took place simultaneously with democratization.

This procedure began with the satisfaction of certain needs that the country had to reach a European level of development. They were indispensable necessities such as urbanization, education, information and media, democracy, stability, etc. As far as the cultural area is concerned, Europeanization has developed in the same direction, following Western models. International cultural cooperation was guided by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Romanian Cultural Institute. Following the directives of the European Union, these institutions began to shape a cultural agenda, adapting Romanian cultural policies to European values. It should, therefore, be mentioned that without the process of Europeanisation and without integration into the EU, Romania and the other Central and Eastern European states would have been unable to develop and harmonize with the European level. Without the enlargement of the EU to central and eastern Europe, the process of Europeanisation had probably not been so debated and European policies had been more limited.

 

Signature of the Treaty of Accession to the EU by Bulgaria and Romania, 25/04/2005

 

The Case of Turkey

Like Romania and other eastern countries, Turkey is also a country where signs of Europeanization become increasingly clear. As we will see below, with its attempt to get closer to the European Union, many reforms have had to be implemented. Let’s start with the application for membership. Turkey applied for membership in April 1987, but it was not until December 1999 that she was recognized as a candidate. Finally, in October 2005, negotiations for full accession began, but these are far from complete due to some obstacles on the part of some European leaders. At present, a departure is more visible than an approximation to the EU. Since it emerged as an independent state that Turkey has tried to develop a policy of approach to Western civilization. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk took control of the country, it was possible to introduce new measures that over the decades have been changing various social customs, taking the country along the path marked by Western institutions.

These measures were called “Atatürk Reforms”, which included reforms at the political, cultural, social and economic level. From these reforms we can take as examples the replacement of the Arabic alphabet by the Latin; a new civil code, inspired by that of Switzerland, was introduced; a clothing code was introduced, prohibiting the use of certain pieces of clothing; the Turkish population was encouraged to adopt their nicknames; European ways and styles have been adopted, reforms have been introduced in gender laws, granting women the right to vote; Sunday was proclaimed as a day of rest; polygamy abolished; the Muslim calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar. The polls showed that there is a rising trend in support for EU membership among Turkish citizens. In 2017, 78.9 percent responded positively to Turkey’s membership of the EU. This figure was up from 75.5 percent in 2016 and 61.8 percent in 2015.

  

 

Each member of the EU was influenced by Europeanisation even before its accession. Europeanization can be experienced differently depending on the expectations and importance that a given state gives the EU and European integration. Through enlargement, countries with different levels of economic and social development have entered the European Union and the European Community has taken on the problems resulting from these divergences. At the national level, Europeanization works as a process where each state adopts its existing structures to new rules, rules, and practices emanating from the EU. In the short term, the impact of Europeanization can cause confusion and complicate the administrative system. In the long run, Europeanisation means development, modernization, stability, and security.

 Eduardo Pereira

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