Citizens’ trust in the EU has dropped. Through a series of video-interviews with Europeans from different walks of life on how Europe impacts their lives, work and communities, we aim to strengthen connections, cohesion and civil agency. It is time to bring Europe back to its citizens.
The EU was created to unite the peoples of Europe and bring prosperity to all after WWII. In 2012, it received the Nobel Peace Prize for having "contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe”. But European integration seems to have lost traction and citizens feel that their voices are not being heard. The revival of nationalist when not xenophobic reflexes is of serious concern. The response is to enable a pluralistic reflection about Europe beyond traditional pro-European and Euro-sceptics divides, focusing instead on the place of Europe in our lives and identities. It is time to bring Europe back to its citizens and ask them not about specific rules and institutions but what Europe means to them and what is their experience of Europe.
We act as a bridge between knowledge and the political debate. This project builds on our expertise and seeks to improve knowledge about Europe and the EU, focusing on the experience of prominent Europeans and citizens at large. Knowledge needs to go hand-in-hand with tangible experience of Europe and a sense of purpose and belonging. The project will be successful if it attracts more people to think about Europe. We want to encourage reflection on the priorities, purpose and pertinence of European integration, and on what it means to be European today. One strength of the project is its relative simplicity and replicability. Once launched, the questionnaire can be applied by anybody in any setting, in schools or civil society organisations and in a business environment.
We will first interview 10 prominent Europeans (from June 2015). A second phase will involve editing, and launching the web and debate (from July). Third, 2 events are envisaged with interviewees, local policy-makers and other stakeholders, including schools and universities and further interviews (from November). Tentative questions: What does Europe mean to you? What has been your personal experience of Europe? What has Europe done for you and what can you do for Europe? What are its main assets and challenges? Is it yesterday’s or tomorrow’s project? What should be its core goals or purpose? Do you see yourself as part of a European community, with shared values and ideas? Would you define yourself as a European? How would your life and work change without European integration?
Funding requested from Advocate Europe