Daring New Spaces

The project Daring New Spaces: Striving towards a European Public Sphere was initiated by Das Progressive Zentrum in light of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020. It is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and carried out in cooperation with Stiftung Mercator and the European Council on Foreign Relations. Our initiative plans to measure the current state of the European public sphere and to identify current challenges. Building on these results, we aim to develop guiding principles for the European public sphere of the future as well as gathering existing successful practices.

Even when the European Union is increasingly criticised for its handling of these challenges, at the same time it is clear: nation-states alone will not be able to successfully take-on the borderless challenges of the early 21st century. For this, a strong, solidaric and democratic European Union is needed. A central cornerstone for such a Europe is a living European public sphere. We understand this as a shared space, in which a European identity develops, where shared values are practised and shared experiences are the norm. In this sphere, European politics are practised, they find resonance and legitimacy. This European public sphere is a fundamental requirement that Europe is not just a common domestic market, but instead a value-based community founded upon solidarity.

A European public sphere ideally is the connecting piece between European politics and European citizens. It can be found concretely in mediating structures or also in the more abstract, for example, created in artistic and cultural forms. Organised civil society, artists, culture creators as well as media actors play an essential role in our project: as constitutive and integral parts of the European public sphere, as idea generators, and constructively critical, supervisory bodies of European politics. With its help and expertise, we want to answer the following fundamental questions: what should a European public sphere of the future feature? Which steps must be taken along the way? And which practices currently contribute to attaining guiding principles or have the potential to do so?