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Abstract

The new members of the European Union have embraced many characteristics of the Union's older members. In respect to what might be described as conceptions of the nation, one senses persistent differences. These come out most apparently in attitudes and policies towards both traditional and immigrant minorities. The new EU members have displayed extreme reluctance to countenance state-wide multilingualism, federalist arrangements, or, indeed, any form of territorial autonomy for historic minorities, in contrast to recent accommodation patterns in the old EU. The article argues that this reluctance may be attributed to state fragility, historically founded on the relatively brief and, in most cases, interrupted statehood of the new EU members. The article further suggests that isolation in the Communist period and the absence of an overseas imperial legacy have left the new EU members without the experience of a non-European minority immigrant population. As a result, these countries' sense of national identity has not yet been challenged by the need to position themselves vis-àvis non-Europeans. In the face of such inevitable future challenges, these countries may be expected to resist multicultural claims and to re-affirm their commitment to national homogeneity thus demarcating themselves further from older EU members.

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