ASSE International Conference on British and American Studies Conference on "Nation, nationality, nationhood: What's in a name?" edition:2 location:Tiranë, Albania date:2-4 May 2013
The ever-expanding European Union (EU) presents potential member states with a dilemma: adopt its ethos or face the increasing cost of being an outsider. From the perspective of the EU, a state’s decision to join depends on the democratic and voluntary will of its people. However, from the perspective of potential member states, the EU’s “take it or leave it” attitude creates an unjust dilemma. On the one hand, joining the EU promotes increased economic opportunity, particularly in the case of eastern states. Though the expanded EU is still quite young, it implicitly suggests that membership provides for greater (if still imperfect) socio-economic justice. On the other hand, joining national groups within future member states to sacrifice aspects of their nationhood to join. In this paper, I suggest that this dilemma rests on the EU’s unwillingness to negotiate fairly with potential member states. In practice, member states must often weigh socio-economic benefit against the loss of national culture. While states like Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are strong enough economically to avoid this dilemma; less powerful regions face a tough choice. My primary aim is to suggest a more just way of equalizing the power imbalance between the EU and potential member states, paying particular attention to the importance of providing greater, though certainly not unlimited, support for greater national diversity.