Most nations want to supplement their national identity with a European one, rather than replace it, according to a report unveiled on Monday.
The report, Rediscovering Europe, by think-tank Demos, was funded by Interbrand Newell and Sorrell and it is the result of six month’s research conducted with 55 000 Europeans.
“If people are to accept a European identity, it must treat Europe’s cultural pluralism as an asset, not as a hindrance,” according to the report. The European Union is less popular than it has been for a generation. However, the answer does not lie in new branding, says the report’s author Mark Leonard.
“There is a European identity emerging… which businesses feel will be useful to them. But you can’t force it or conjure it into existence by creating more logos or flags,” he says.
“The idea is to come up with a coherent story of where we are and where we want to be in 40 years,” he adds. Rediscovering Europe outlines seven such stories, or “missions”, including The Travelling Continent, The Community of Knowledge and The Good Life.
“The [existing] narrative of cultural highlights and political identity has failed to grip the popular imagination,” says the report, which criticises the current “cultural narrative” for being abstract and elitist.
“Identity is something which evolves,” says EU commissioner for transport Neil Kinnock. “The European identity can’t be implanted and no attempt should be made to superimpose it.
“There is a general disposition to being European being a good idea,” he adds.
Interbrand Newell and Sorrell will publish its findings on the issue of European identity for businesses in September.
“Initial feedback suggests many companies in Europe are facing big issues of identity and are confused whether they should market themselves as local, national, European or global entities,” says INS chairman John Sorrell.