Vicarious identification, or ‘living through another’ refers to the way actors appropriate the achievements and experiences of others to gain a sense of purpose, identity and self-esteem. This chapter proposes that vicarious identification with ‘Europe’ has been constitutive for Estonia’s pooling of important aspects of its sovereign power with the European Union (EU) while retaining a strong nominal commitment to absolute sovereignty in its national constitution. Accordingly, the sharing of the sovereign authority of the state in essential aspects with the EU emerges as a generally accepted trade-off for a sense of ontological security attained through membership in the European polity. The chapter conceptualizes vicarious sovereignty and illustrates the reconciliation attempts of ideal-typical sovereign state subjectivity with the evolving empirical reality of the EU on the example of Estonia’s post-Soviet ‘home-coming’ in Europe. This is done via tapping into the visions of Europe, as articulated by the defining Estonian constitutional ‘map-makers’ at the time of the Convention on the Future of Europe in the early noughties: namely, Lennart Meri and Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
You can download the working paper at the SSRN.