The European Cultural Identity
My Europe

This article by Eliot Robinson won the 4th prize in My Europe's essay competition in Sweden.

The winners were chosen by a jury of ”My Europe“ and Svenska Dagbladet.  

I remember it so clearly; I was walking down the snow-covered path to my country home. My ears were stinging from the freezing weather and I could feel the brisk air piercing my nostrils while I was breathing in. It was then I sensed my mobile vibrating three times, I had gotten the notification. As I glanced down upon my phone, it greeted me with a holographic image. I could not believe what I saw and heard.

“The Europa Bulls have defeated the US Eagles for the first time in basketball history” Could it be true? I raised my left hand to check the date on my silver-plated watch, which I had inheritedfrom my father. The date was not April 1st.This was an historic moment; similar to the stories my dad had described about the time Nelson Mandela
had united the apartheid-torn land, through attending an all-important rugby match. This was the event that would consolidate a divided Europe in the most unexpected way.

I get the chills just thinking about it. You know that feeling when there is a tingly sensation across your entire body. I do not know if it was the sensational pass from the German point-guard to the Lithuanian sharpshooter or the great defensive effort by the Swedish player that made us unite. But there was something in the air after that game, something I had never felt before, something all across Europe.

This one specific event created the feeling of belonging to a national Europe, giving individuals a greater sense of shared citizenship where individual characteristics remained on the state level but the cultural identity of the group had become a shared European identity. What followed was collaboration between European countries on a scale that had never before existed. Through artistic exchanges between Sweden and France, through cultural exchanges between Turkey and Italy, and through informational sharing all over the European Union.

What we had now was a common Europe. Furthermore, the experiment known as the European Monetary Union had now become a reality for the entire continent, not just founding countries. The idea of sharing economic wealth across borders and helping the poor, no matter where they resided, benefited Europe as a whole. The domino effect was in place. The European economy has since catapulted and experts say we are going to surpass the United States by the end of the year.

The problems I thought would arise, barely even surfaced. The French accepted English to be the more dominant
European language. The Spanish recognized that the Italians were more stylish people. The Greek population acknowledged that Finland held the best education in Europe, but continued to increase the standards of their own education. The Germans acquiesced that the Czechs made the best beer. The seemingly independent nations accepted each other as a union. The European people overcame the challenge of seeing beyond national pride, while keeping their national identity.

If someone would have told the seventeen year old me that the creation of a true European cultural belonging was born out of a single sporting event, I would have laughed. But somehow it did. Cultural identity has become characteristic of not only the individual European states, but also to the culturally identical group known as Europe with shared interests. This is me who has experienced the events around Europe over the past fifteen years. And I am proud to say: ”My name is Eliot Robinson. I am a European, and I still live in Stockholm, Sweden".