Trapped by 'Europe'

Steve Wood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


March 2007 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, with which six Western European states created the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC evolved into European Community (EC) and then the European Union (EU), now combining twenty-seven states and several institutions, some of them 'supranational'. The EU styled itself as the political representative or directoire of Europe as a whole, even if some European states or nations remained outside the EU's frameworks. The attempt to discursively acquire a form of stewardship over 'Europe' by presenting the two entities as interchangeable contributed to a situation whereby states or nations claiming to be European perceived a basic right to join the EU. The consequent potential for an over-extending of the EU's institutional, financial and political capacities, and the emergence of strident opposition among some member state electorates and elites to further enlargements, has motivated a moderation of the formerly enthusiastic conflation of the EU and 'Europe'. One strategy of differentiation is the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which attempts to promote a 'ring of friends', rather than pending members, on the EU's periphery. This paper addresses these themes and uses Eurabarometer public opinion surveys to assist its illustration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Politics and Economics of Europe
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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