A Community of Shared Values? Dimensions and Dynamics of Cultural Integration in the European Union
The series of recent crises (EURO, refugees, backsliding, Brexit) challenge the self-portrayal of the European Union (EU) as a community of shared values. Against this backdrop, we analyse European Values Study data from 1990 till 2020 to assess the level and change in publics’ acceptance of the EU’s officially propagated values: personal freedom, individual autonomy, social solidarity, ethnic tolerance, civic honesty, gender equality and liberal democracy. We find that EU publics support these values strongly and increasingly over time. The EU-member publics are also remarkably distinct culturally from Eastern European non-EU-nations, especially concerning individual freedoms and gender equality. Simultaneously, however, member nations internalize EU-values at different speeds – alongside traditional religious fault lines that continue to differentiate Europe – in the following order from fastest to slowest: (1) Protestant, (2) Catholic, (3) Ex-communist and (4) Orthodox countries. In conclusion, the EU writ large evolves into a distinct value-sharing community at different speeds.