On 7th March 2018, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) hosted the most recent event of the “Stronger Together” series, exploring the changing role of national identity in contemporary Europe. The roundtable discussion was organized in cooperation with the State Secretariat for European Union Affairs of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office.
The “Stronger Together” series brings together various European thinkers, academics and decision-makers to discuss the multi-faceted challenges facing the European Union. The participants of this roundtable were Mr Ludger Kühnhardt, Director of the Center for European Integration Studies (Germany), Mr Attila Károly Molnár, Professor at Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), along with Mr João Pereira Coutinho, Professor at the Catholic University of Portugal (Portugal). The event was moderated by Ms Diána Szőke, IFAT’s senior analyst.
The discussion began by a general introduction on the relevance of nationalism in Europe today. Director Kühnhardt took an optimistic approach, highlighting the unique nature of European integration. He stated that the European Union may actually provide a framework for upholding national identity in Europe. Professor Coutinho considered nationalism to be a fundamental and pre-political attribute of social cohesion. Professor Molnár addressed the issue from a historical perspective, mentioning the roles of multiculturalism and the migration crisis in shaping our current thinking on nationalism.
Other questions covered during the course of the event included the nature of a supranational, European identity, historical differences between nationalism in Western and Eastern Europe, along with the prospects for regional identities (i.e. in Scotland, Bavaria or Catalonia).