"United in Diversity": Is Brexit a Danger for European Citizenship?

Francesca Romana Ammaturo

In September 2016, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker has affirmed that the European Union is undergoing an "existential crisis" (Ranking 2016). Junker's statement can be read as a direct response to the uncertainties arising as a result of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. More in general, however, in the last few years, the advent of both endogenous and exogenous "crises", such as the 2008 financial crisis or the relatively recent "migration crisis", seem to have significantly threatened Europe's sense of "self" (Laffan 2016, 916). Ultimately, the proliferation of the various narratives of "crisis" across Europe, fundamentally contributes to the creation of a mentality of "continuous re-entrenchment" into narrow identitarian micro and macro positions across the continent which further catalyses and exposes the internal contradictions of the concepts of both "European Identity" and "European Citizenship".This paper seeks to analyse, from a Foucauldian perspective, the various discourses on "Europeanness" and "European Identity" produced before and after the Brexit vote, in order to cast light on the difficult project of constructing a form of belonging that transcends national boundaries. More specifically, the paper will firstly, look at how the production of knowledge about Europe and the European Union serve the purpose of fostering this sense of common belonging by means of the creation of a unified narrative. Secondly, the paper will consider the extent to which the Brexit vote creates a displacement of the knowledge on "Europeanness", thus potentially threatening the concept of a "European citizenship" in the first place. Ultimately, the paper seeks to shed light on the potential threats to such an ambitious project of creation of trans-national identities, as well as engaging with the multifarious and problematic character of the concept of "European Citizenship" as a translatable concept in political practice.

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