Uncovering Europe’s Stories

The Oxford University research project Europe’s Stories, 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.

European Stories logoEurope’s Stories seeks to explore what stories Europe currently tells.
Between Brexit, populism, Eurozone tensions and divided European reactions to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, many wonder what the future holds for Europe. 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 – currently tells.

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. Through the use of such methodologies, along with webinars, podcasts and conferences, including a major international, interdisciplinary conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dahrendorf Programme, Europe’s Stories aims to identify a new account of the European Union.

In January 2021, Europe’s Stories published a new opinion poll, where respondents stated that freedom to travel (61%) and to work/study abroad (53%) are the top benefits of the EU. Another survey, published in November 2020, revealed that 2 in 3 Europeans would support a ban on short-haul flights and the same proportion say they would eat less meat to combat climate change.

The research team continues to work with polling groups such as the eupinions project, while the project website features interviews with around 100 Europeans on their formative, best and worst European moments, as well as in-depth interviews with leading Europeans and far-reaching findings from public opinion surveys.

Funders: Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die FreiheitZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd BuceriusStiftung Mercator