The European Union’s founding narrative as peace project has never been more relevant. Roiled by two years of a deadly pandemic that has cost millions of lives around the world, the Union today confronts what for seven decades had seemed unthinkable: a major land war on the European continent. Inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainian people and the leadership of their impassioned president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Europe has been roused from its geostrategic slumber. It has emerged re-energised, unified, and emboldened to defend the principles it has enshrined in its treaties.
In addition to the battlefield, today’s confrontation of alternative ideologies is increasingly playing out in the realm of words. States and non-state actors alike routinely use disinformation and ‘alternative facts’ to sow confusion, breed fear, and undermine trust. In this brave new world, a compelling narrative will be paramount for the survival of the European project.
How can the European Union best tell its story in these difficult times?
This public event was part of the “How Europe Thinks About Itself in a Changing World” conference on 5 and 6 April 2022 at the Institute for Human Sciences, organised in cooperation with the Dahrendorf Programme at the European Studies Centre of St Antony’s College.
Julia De Clerck-Sachsse, speechwriter and communications adviser to the High Representative for EU Foreign and Security Policy, was fellow at the IWM Europe's Futures program.
Luuk van Middelaar is professor of EU law at Leiden University, political commentator for NRC Handelsblad and author of the prizewinning book The Passage to Europe.
Nathalie Tocci is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen and Pierre Keller Visiting Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Ivan Vejvoda, Acting Rector and Permanent Fellow of the IWM in Vienna, moderated the discussion.