European values and identity


Debates about European identity have intensified in the context of EU enlargement and the Union's Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties. Although the motto "unity in diversity" is generally seen as best describing the aims of the EU, opinions differ widely as to how it should be understood. 

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The point of departure of most discussions on European identity is the idea that a political community needs a common set of values and references to ensure its coherence, to guide its actions and to endow these with legitimacy and meaning. 

With the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, and the founding of the 'European Union' with 1992's Maastricht Treaty - which gave the European Communities new and stronger competences in a wide range of areas (such as foreign affairs, security and defence), two issues gained renewed urgency: defining the EU's borders and boosting the political legitimacy of the Union in the eyes of its citizens: the 'glue' that unites all Europeans and keeps the bloc together.