Supporters credit the EU with promoting an internationalism and cosmopolitanism that strengthens individual rights and breaks down boundaries between peoples, while respecting cultural and social diversity. But critics accuse it of using unaccountable bureaucratic rules to suppress democracy, override national differences, impose neoliberal economics and exclude outsiders. The Brexit vote was partly won by appeals to ideas that have, in some form, been around since before the Roman Empire: desires to reclaim national sovereignty, control migration, re-connect governments with the people and reject a ‘European’ state. This session will debate whether the apparent resurgence of political and cultural nationalism within the EU is a sign of success or failure, why local and ‘European’ identities seem to co-exist in some countries but clash in others, and what is left of Europe’s social-justice and citizenship aspirations after the Brexit vote.
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