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Ernst Haas observed over fifty years ago that ‘United Europe' is a resilient, adaptable, unifying, and yet unspecified symbol'. It is precisely this adaptability and ambiguity that has ensures the continuing importance of European studies as a means of understanding ‘the remarkable social experiment of European unification' (Calhoun 2003: 18). Craig Calhoun argued in the first issue of Comparative European Politics that ‘studies of the EU, and of Europe in the era of the EU, need to transcend analyses of particular political decisions and policy regimes to explore the broader processes of social transformation involved' (Calhoun 2003: 18). This article will consider the role of symbolism in European integration as part of answering Craig Calhoun's call for a means of transcending specific regimes of analysis in order to advance European studies.