- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Europe in the twenty-first century
- 2 Defining Europe
- 3 Europe as a project
- Europe as a project (continued)
- 4 Debates on the development of Europe
- Debates on the development of Europe (continued)
- 5 Themes in European development
- 6 Conclusion
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What is Europe?
The European Union (EU), formed out of the ashes of the Second World War, continues to...
The European Union (EU), formed out of the ashes of the Second World War, continues to expand in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite the EU's growing size and significance the question 'What is Europe?' still resonates through the continent. This unit looks at a range of different views on the question, contrasting different conceptions of Europeanness and outlining competing visions for the future of the EU.
After studying this unit you will be able to:
- appreciate the historical development of ‘Europe’ as a political and economic entity;
- understand the rationale for the emergence of the idea of ‘Europe’ in policy making;
- see the difficulty in defining what Europe is and its limits;
- understand the contested nature of the idea of Europe;
- understand that ‘Europe’ is not coterminous with the European Union;
- appreciate the challenges facing the EU as it expands.
What is Europe?
‘Europe’ is a key issue of contemporary political debate and provides one of the most contentious questions facing party leaders and the voters of more than one country. But what is the nature of the issue, and what does it actually involve? What are the precise questions that contemporary Europe poses? Europe is in flux, and many of the key reference points of a traditional Europe have weakened or disappeared altogether. One of the key aspects of the present situation, therefore, is that of rapid change and a thoroughgoing transformation of Europe from the years of the Cold War and the World War that preceded it. This unit focuses on the different understandings of Europe that underlie the debates and disputes over the development of Europe.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Geography course units or view the range of currently available OU Geography courses.