Habermas points out that European identity is problematic for two reasons. Firstly the extreme violence of historical competition between the European states, and secondly, because many of the 'best' characteristics of European culture have been disseminated so widely that they can no longer be characterised as uniquely European.
The temptation is to concentrate therefore on the features which European countries share in contrast to other 'Western' cultures, and in particular to the US due to its strong influence. I think that is what Habermas is doing in .
... in European societies secularization has progressed relatively far. Here citizens regard trespasses beyond the border between politics and religion rather suspiciously. Europeans have a relatively great confidence in the organizational abilities and directive capabilities of the State, while they are sceptical with regard to the efficiency of the market. They possess a pronounced sense of the "dialectic of the Enlightenment", and hold no unbroken optimistic expectations with regard to technical progress. They have a preference for the security guarantees of the welfare state and for collective regulations. Their tolerance threshold regarding the use of force against persons is comparatively low. Their desire for a multilateral and legally regulated international order is connected with their hope for an effective world domestic policy in the context of a reformed United Nations.
Though clearly there are common European values which we share with the US, he is emphasisng features which are divergent from US cultural values:
- scepticism about the market (and desire for collective regulation of it)
- cynicism about the inevitability of progress
- support for public welfare provision
- intolerance of personal physical punishment methods (eg capital or corporal)
- support for internationalism in the context of the UN
These are all values I share, and I hope Europeans can work together to promote them.
I personally have very mixed feelings about European Unity, and suspicion of many of the individuals and organisations involved. However as an advocate of secularism, and disliker of unfettered capitalism, I think it could be fruitful to emphasise the way in which we can ally ourselves to further these ends.