Can National Identities exist in the EU’s legal system?

In preparation for our free course on Coursera, we’ve developed a series of videos to get you thinking about the legal system in England and Wales.

In this video Professor Michelle Everson discusses the how the EU’s legal system and how it could alter member states

One comment

  1. The title of the page contains a typing/spelling error…shouldn’t ‘identifies’ be ‘identities’? As to the question itself, it appears to pre-suppose that national identities can’t exist within the EU legal system. Perhaps the question ought to be whether the EU legal system (and it’s political system) poses any threats to national identities, and if so, what is the nature and extent of any such threats? To pre-suppose that greater European integration necessarily would inhibit the existence of individual national identities is essentially the same as pre-supposing that the integration of any individual within any group threatens the existence of the individual’s identity. Individual identity will always remain regardless of integration, and the individual can acquire and assimilate different dimensions of identities, as can the group into which they integrate. To that extent, we might also ask whether greater integration offers individual national states opportunities for cultural, intellectual, and economic growth and development, and indeed whether it equally provides opportunities for similar forms of growth and development for the EU as an entity. There seems little evidence to suggest that the EU (politically and legally) must necessarily continue to exist in its current form, nor that it’s current form must by necessity constrain either itself or individual states. It is, after all, a creation of those individual states, and was created to further and better the collective interests of those states, not to constrain or repress or de-individualise each other. A useful analogy can be drawn with the U.S. to the extent that individual states in the U.S. legal system, although overseen by the Federal legal system, nevertheless retain their individual legal identity. The individual personality and identity of those states differs, in some instances considerably, from others. Of course, there are similarities between states, but each state is quite unique in its legal character. Whilst the terminology is different, the EU, in many respects, operates similarly to that of the Federal system, and individual nations of the EU operate similarly to individual U.S. states. In any event, European legal integration is already quite significant, and most individual nations within the EU share common notions of justice and fairness. However, the manner and nature of how they apply those notions remains individual to each nation state. Further, individual social and political identity is a rather more complex thing than could be dismantled overnight by greater EU integration. Fears of loss of identity, are arguably quite natural in response to changes, just as any change to the life of an individual has the potential to make them fearful about loss of their individual identity. However, those fears are not necessarily well founded in fact, and can often become exaggerated and blown out of proportion if not carefully considered and evaluated.


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