Cosmopolitanism in the EU

Cosmopolitanism in the EU

Since enacting and implementing the Treaties of the European Union (EU), European citizens enjoy the benefits of Cosmopolitanism in the EU. Cosmopolitanism as a philosophy emphasizes the importance of global Citizenship and the interconnectedness of all people worldwide. In the European context, it should be rooted in the belief that Europeans and the larger global community are all part of a larger community transcending national boundaries and that their actions should reflect pluralism in Society.

Cosmopolitanism in Greek Philosophy to Modernity

Cosmopolitanism is rooted in ancient Greek philosophy and has been a recurring theme in Western countries. At its core, Cosmopolitanism is about recognizing and valuing the diversity of human cultures and experiences. It encourages us to embrace differences and seek new perspectives to understand the world around us better. By doing so, we can build bridges between different communities and work towards a more just and equitable global society.

While Cosmopolitanism is often associated with the intellectual elite, it is a philosophy with something to offer everyone compared to its rival, nationalism, which aims to limit certain groups’ rights in Society. Whether traveling to a new country, learning about a different culture, or simply interacting with someone from a different background, we can all benefit from the insights and perspectives that come with a cosmopolitan outlook. Ultimately, embracing Cosmopolitanism can help create a more peaceful, inclusive, and harmonious world for all.

Cosmopolitanism as an Antidote against Nationalism after the WWII

After the second world war (WWII), the founding member states of the EU embarked on a journey to unite the European continent to finally bring peace to Europe after ages of conflict between European nations. In recent years, the concept of Cosmopolitanism in the EU has become increasingly relevant, not only to its favor but also to its potential demise. 

With the continued integration of member states and the rise of cross-border trade and communication, the EU has become a hub of cultural exchange and diversity. The European demographics reflect this increasing diversity and the global trend due to similar integration processes in Asia, South America, Africa, Pacific Islands, and North America. Without Cosmopolitanism and Globalization, the EU would cease to exist or be an empty vase, returning to the middle age of nationalism if not treated.

The main problem is not that Cosmopolitanism seeks to dissolve nationalities. However, it aims to shape a just, pluralistic, and democratic-friendly concept to complement national sovereignty if implemented without favoritism and ethnocentrism or dismantling human rights for minority groups. Cosmopolitanism is about the peaceful coexistence of sovereign nations in a free, fair, sustainable, and just environment.

Challenging Cosmopolitanism in the EU and Globalization

With the fall of North African and Middle-East dictatorships in the 2010s after the financial crisis in 2008, the rise of the migration crisis after that, and the emergence of Trumpism in the USA with all consequences for the United States international policy (e.g., Mexican Wall) during Trump’s presidency, Cosmopolitanism in the EU faces several challenges that threaten to undermine the very foundations of the European project

1. Competition between National and European Regulations

One of the most pressing challenges facing the EU today is the competition between national and European regulations. In the eyes of the politicians at the national level, EU regulations are to blame for the failures of problems not resolved at the national level, e.g., industrial competition and labor market frictions, to name but a few examples. In disguise for wolves in a goat’s skin, nationalistic policy movements in all EU member states threaten European solidarity and cooperation by offering simplistic solutions to complex societal problems in the EU with drastic but unexplained consequences for their population, e.g., Brexit. 

While the EU has made significant strides in harmonizing laws and regulations across member states, there are still significant disparities in regulatory frameworks that can create barriers to trade and limit the free movement of goods, services, and people. Instead of resolving these problems pragmatically, the conservative parties in the EU have resorted to nationalistic tendencies, risking the dissolution of the EU institutions and legal framework, including risking human rights. Both microeconomic and macroeconomic impacts are relevant for any decision-making.

2. Lacking Solidarity and Coordination in the Migration Policy

Another major challenge facing the EU is the need for more solidarity and coordination in migration policy for non-member countries, challenging the EU’s ambition to uphold human rights for both European Citizens and Non-European Citizens. After the historical atrocities committed by Germany in the Second World War, the EU was the resulting social order of supranational integration in Europe. Especially for Baltic countries, Turkey, and Russia, it has been a never nearing dream to enter or be associated with the EU and to enjoy the fruits of European Cosmopolitanism. 

With the ongoing refugee crisis and the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in many member states, there is a growing divide between those who believe the EU should be open to all and those who wish to restrict immigration and protect national identities, of which the national identities are not specific enforceable traits without the discrimination of certain groups in Society at the cost of peace and stability of the EU, e.g., the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. Similar atrocities occurred in Ukraine, where Russia invaded Ukraine with vague claims, which are still ongoing.

3. Populism and nationalistic Tendencies endanger European Citizenship 

Thirdly, the rise of populism in national politics poses a significant threat to the EU’s continued existence if moderate political interests remain silent. With the growing popularity of nationalist and anti-EU parties, there is a risk that member states may choose to leave the Union altogether (though less likely after the Brexit experience), undermining the progress that the EU member states made toward greater cooperation and integration. Barricading Europeans behind a national wall will only lead to disintegration and less development in the member states because coexistence in a globalized world will be inevitable to the extent that going back to the drawing table will be the only remedy.

Despite these challenges, the EU remains a beacon of hope for those who believe in the power of Cosmopolitanism and Globalization to promote peace, prosperity, and progress worldwide. By working together to address these challenges and build a more inclusive and equitable Union, member and non-member states can ensure that the European project remains strong and vibrant for future generations. Broken European solidarity will mean more harm to the global community.

Conclusion and Further Research

In conclusion, European citizens benefit from Cosmopolitanism in the EU, which emphasizes global Citizenship and the interconnectedness of all people. This philosophy should be rooted in the belief that Europeans are part of a larger community transcending national boundaries, and their actions should reflect pluralism in Society. In a future discussion, what remains of European Cosmopolitanism at current times? How vital is Globalization for a cosmopolitan? Would a cosmopolitan be optimistic about Globalization, while a nationalist would be pessimistic? These and many other questions are still unanswered but can be issues of future research.

This essay’s general takeaway is that Cosmopolitanism values human diversity and encourages understanding of different cultures to build bridges toward a more equitable global society.

The essay’s second but historical takeaway is that after World War II, the current, previous, and forthcoming EU member states still entangle themselves in a journey to unite Europe and should continue bringing peace after centuries of conflict. To achieve that, Cosmopolitanism must increasingly become relevant to the EU in current times, but member states should not only focus on its benefits but also on its potential downfall. With member states continuing to integrate (e.g., via cross-border trade, communication, ERASMUS, and harmonization of policies), the EU has become a hub of cultural exchange and diversity. Therefore, Cosmopolitanism and Globalization are crucial for its existence, but the EU must implement them fairly and without dismantling minority rights.

Literature for Further Reading