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Portugal and the EU’s Eastern Enlargement: A logic of identity endorsement


  • Schukkink, Martijn
  • Niemann, Arne


This paper addresses the puzzle of why Portugal has consistently supported the EU’s fifth enlargement. We argue that standard explanations, based on welfare maximisation, geopolitics, or rhetorical action, cannot persuasively account for this policy choice. Instead, we advance an alternative explanation – subsequently referred to as ‘identity endorsement –that is based on a logic of appropriateness where behaviour is shaped by aspects of similarity and congruence, and where the development of Portuguese identity has constituted what has been perceived as appropriate in the context of Eastern enlargement. We argue that EC/EU membership has provided Portuguese political elites with a renewed collective identity, in which a choice for membership has been equated with a choice for democracy, stability and openness. Portuguese support for Eastern enlargement has consistently been based on these concepts that originated from Portugal’s own period of accession negotiations. By fully supporting Eastern enlargement, Portugal could act together with the ‘European core’, and Portugal itself would become more ‘core’, i.e. more European. For Portuguese political elites, supporting Eastern enlargement thus constituted an act of ‘identity endorsement’, i.e. the confirmation, (re-)production and reinforcement of existing identity constructions. We tentatively suggest that the notion of identity endorsement may also shed light on other empirical puzzles related to European integration.

Suggested Citation

  • Schukkink, Martijn & Niemann, Arne, 2012. "Portugal and the EU’s Eastern Enlargement: A logic of identity endorsement," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 16, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:eiopxx:p0225

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kohler, Wilhelm, 2004. "Eastern Enlargement of the EU: A Comprehensive Welfare Assessment," Discussion Paper Series 26377, Hamburg Institute of International Economics.
    2. Arjan M. Lejour & Ruud A. de Mooij, 2005. "Turkish Delight: Does Turkey's Accession to the EU Bring Economic Benefits?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 87-120, February.
    3. Nuno Crespo & Maria Paula Fontoura & Frank Barry, 2004. "EU Enlargement and the Portuguese Economy," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(6), pages 781-802, June.
    4. Fritz Breuss, 2001. "Macroeconomic Effects of EU Enlargement for Old and New Members," WIFO Working Papers 143, WIFO.
    5. Fritz Breuss, 2002. "Benefits and Dangers of EU Enlargement," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 245-274, September.
    6. Kohler, Wilhelm K., 2004. "Eastern Enlargement of the EU: A Comprehensive Welfare Assessment," HWWA Discussion Papers 260, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Mathias Dolls, 2019. "An Unemployment Re-Insurance Scheme for the Eurozone? Stabilizing and Redistributive Effects," EconPol Policy Reports 10, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    2. Sarah Ciaglia & Clemens Fuest & Friedrich Heinemann, 2018. "What a feeling?! How to promote ‘European Identity’," EconPol Policy Reports 9, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.


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