Europe’s Stories

The Oxford University research project led by Professor Timothy Garton Ash aims to explore what Europeans really think about Europe –what people’s real experiences of Europe are, and what they want the EU to do by 2030.

That includes you – please contribute to our project by submitting your self-interview.

Between Brexit, populism, Eurozone tensions and divided European reactions to Vladimir Putin, many wonder if Europe has lost the plot. Some argue that, aside from actual policies, there is a burning need for a new narrative for the European project.

Are they right? If yes, what should be its central ingredients for the 21st-century? How can one reconcile the desirable, inspiring simplicity of a narrative with a recognition of Europe’s extremely complex realities, the necessity of intellectual scepticism and (as famously admonished by Ernest Renan) the historian’s task of myth-busting? Shouldn’t it be stories rather than one story?

How should it (or they) be told? By whom, for whom and, not least, by what means? In the digital age, with young Europeans growing up in the online world of social media, what are the best forms for making this story (or stories) accessible and attractive? Can one realise the European ideal of ‘unity in diversity’ in narrative/s?

Europe’s Stories seeks to explore these and other questions, starting by asking what stories Europe – in all its multiple meanings, by no means confined to the institutions of the EU – does currently tell.

Connecting past, present and future, Europe’s Stories conducts opinion polls, interviews with European citizens, and in-depth interviews with distinguished intellectuals, commentators and politicians. Followed by webinars, conferences and discussions Europe’s Stories aims to address a new account of the European Union.

The regular opinion polls conducted by the eupinions project for Europe’s Stories contribute to a better understanding of contemporary European aspirations and challenges. In one of our recent polls, respondents stated that freedom to travel (61%) and to work/study abroad (53%) are the top benefits of the EU.  Another survey revealed that two in three Europeans would support a ban on short haul flights and the same proportion say they would eat less meat to combat climate change. The project’s website features interviews with around 200 Europeans on their formative, best and worst European moments, as well as in-depth interviews with leading Europeans and interesting findings from public opinion surveys.

Europe’s Stories aims to record and analyse a variety of narratives and their constitutive moments, for Europe is not shaped by one, but many stories. Whether these stories culminate in cacophony or polyphony may depend not on which concerns are voiced and which memories are deemed salient, but on an attentive ear that perhaps can recognise their points of resonance. Tuning into current narratives can help us make sense of the historical moment we are living through as well as the decade that lies ahead.

The project is directed by Professor Timothy Garton Ash and the Research Manager is Luisa Melloh. The project is generously funded by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit, the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius and Stiftung Mercator.