Europe’s Stories

Connecting past, present and future

Between Brexit, populism, Eurozone tensions and divided European reactions to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, 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?

This research project of the Dahrendorf Programme explored these and other questions, asking what stories Europe – in all its multiple meanings, by no means confined to the institutions of the EU – does currently tell. We held a major international, interdisciplinary conference in Oxford in May 2019, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dahrendorf Programme. We worked with polling groups such as the eupinions project.

Our innovative website – – contains fascinating findings from our four rounds of EU-wide public opinion polling, as well as interviews with nearly 200 Europeans on their formative, best and worst European moments, including in-depth interviews with leading European experts and thought leaders. You can also listen to podcasts created in the context of the Europe’s Stories project.

The project was directed by Professor Timothy Garton AshDr Julia De Clerck-Sachsse was the project’s Academic Associate. An advisory committee working alongside the project consisted of leading Oxford academics: Professor Paul BettsDr Jonathan BrightProfessor Faisal DevjiProfessor Carolin Duttlinger Professor Robert GildeaProfessor Ruth HarrisDr Sudhir HazareesinghProfessor Andrew HurrellDr Hartmut MayerProfessor Kalypso NicolaidisProfessor Rasmus Nielsen and Professor David Priestland.

The project was generously funded by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit, the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius and Stiftung Mercator.

External Links: 

Europe’s Stories website