Guisan-Dickinson, Catherine. (2003) "The European Union's identity and the politics of reconciliation". In: UNSPECIFIED, Nashville, TN. (Unpublished)
Voluntary associations such as the European Union (EU) rest on a sense of common identity formed around ideals and traditions, as well as on material and security interests. Yet many EU citizens and even some of their leaders express confusion as to what this common tradition might be. My essay is a theoretical and empirical analysis of one major principle of action, the principle of reconciliation, that I detect in the identity formation of the European Union. Certain issues and debates in political theory can inform this principle; and I draw from Hannah Arendt's reflections on action, promise and forgiveness, and also from Montesquieu, to analyze its normative dimension. But this principle has become another "lost treasure" (Arendt's words for the legacy of the American Revolution). Thus I attempt to retrieve it in the "speech and deed" of founders and current actors of European integration politics (in memoirs, autobiographies, official documents and forty-five interviews I conducted in 1995 and in 1999 with close collaborators of Jean Monnet, members of the European Parliament, and senior Commission officials). This enquiry has political as well as theoretical relevance. The principle of reconciliation, if remembered and understood, could become part of a shared "political tradition" for the citizens of the European Union. One of my interviewees, former EU Commission President Jacques Delors, drew from my Arendtian analysis of the principle of reconciliation to comment publicly on the EU policies in the Balkans.
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