In December 2007 the EU member states signed the Treaty of Lisbon. This treaty was supposed to be the ultimate answer to decades of different levels of multi-speed integrating and disintegrating forces at work in Europe. It was to bring together all the strings of the post-1945 narrative of a Europe that came together to build and preserve peace and prosperity. It was to send a clear message to the future and provide the structural and institutional scaffolding for our common European narrative. It set the guidelines in terms of political, economic, political and cultural integration. Yet, 10 year later, this vision of Europe seems to lose itself in a socio-political, economic and well as institutional quagmire that is being answered by a surge in political populism and discontent across the member states.
After the sovereign debt crisis, the austerity responses of the powerful northern member states with its devastating results for the southern member states, the European Union finds confronted with new crisis: the lack of solidarity in Central and Eastern European member states in few of the refugee influx. The European narrative remains hidden under thick layers of Eurosceptic discourses, and does not provide for a straightforward paved path. Communicating the European vision is all but disrupted between the European elites and the recipients in the member states. Populist parties across Europe hail the death of the European vision. Once more, we find ourselves at crossroads. We need to choose wisely.
The current cacophony of narratives of disengagement and isolationism, exemplified by the outcome of the Brexit referendum, seems to put the final dismissive stamp on a peaceful, prosperous and united Europe. It becomes clear that Europe needs a moment of reflection, and take stock of the available visions in the search for a vision that could lead the way on the path ahead.
This conference seeks to bring together old and new narratives. It is looking for ways that could counteract the current Eurosceptic and anti-EU rhetoric and show a way forward to recover the vision of a peaceful and united Europe.