Against the common view that a European identity is a functional precondition for legitimate EU governance, this paper argues that conceptual weaknesses of the term 'collective identity' inherited from social philosophical and sociological tradition led to a confusion of several analytic dimensions of 'identity' and to an overestimation of strong forms of collective identity. Insights provided by analytic philosophy will be introduced in order to redefine and differentiate the concept of 'collective identity'. The ways in which people refer to themselves as members of we-groups will be outlined in order to contribute to an innovative model of the problem and therefore policy-related formation of collective identities. In each sub-section the relevance of these conceptual considerations for evaluating whether or not 'the Europeans' see themselves as members of a community will be shortly illustrated. The paper concludes that a strong European identity is not a functional precondition for legitimate democratic governance in the EU as far as every day politics is concerned. Only in extraordinary situations and in order to institutionalise integration in ethically sensitive policy fields is it necessary that the EU-citizens discursively agree on an ethical self-understanding of their way of life.