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The future of Europe via its history and mythology

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In her closing lecture, Professor Nicolaïdis will draw from the Envisioning Europe series and from her keynotes of the 5 last years. She aims to offer her own lessons from the broad topics of the Conference on the Future of Europe, ranging from climate change, economy, social equality, European rights and values, rule of law, migration, and the EU role in the world.

In order to envision the future of Europe, we can do well to put ourselves in a space of “political imagination” at the intersection between the Longue Durée perspective and mythological foundations. The former has been the mission of the House of European History, while the latter refers to the story of Europa - an omnipresent yet mysterious character that adorns the EU public space, whose inspirational potential is yet to be drawn out. In Nicolaïdis’ view, Europe’s and Europa parallel lives can inspire us to embrace “the return of the margins” as we consider where the EU should go next in the wake of the Conference for the Future of Europe (COFOE) experiment. 1) Citizen Power Europe: at the individual level, as the EU - encouraged by COFOE - rethinks and reshapes the role of direct participatory democracy and citizens drawing from experiences in the ancient world from the Phoenicians to ancient Athens. 2) Polycentric Europe: at the state level, as our Union recover its initial intuition to amplify the role of smaller and peripheral member states as theorised by our 18th-century peacemakers. 3) Decentered Europe: geopolitically, by inviting Europe’s former colonial world to help it better become a post-imperial power. In order to best take advantage of the premises of the House of History, Professor Nicolaïdis plans her intervention in the spirit of her continued experiment with what she calls  “immersive debating” borrowing from the traditions of ancient Greek theatre.

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Kalypso Nicolaïdis is professorial Chair of Global Affairs at the EUI School of Transnational Governance in Florence, where she convenes the EUI Democracy Forum. She is currently on leave from the University of Oxford and was professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and at ENA. She has worked with numerous EU institutions, including as a member of the European Council’s reflection group on the future of Europe chaired by Felipe González (2008-10).  Her research revolves around internal and external aspects of European integration as well as global affairs, theaters of recognition, demoicratic theory, transnational legal empathy and social solidarity, global governance and international trade, sustainable integration, post-colonialism, myth and politics and the import of new technologies on international relations. Her last books are: A Citizen’s Guide to the Rule of Law - Why We Need to Fight for the Most Precious Human Inventions of All Time (with Adis Merdzanovic, 2021) and Exodus, Reckoning, Sacrifice: Three Meanings of Brexit (2019). Her website

Moderation by Chris Burns, Franco-American journalist and media expert with more than 30 years' reporting experience in Europe, the U.S., Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. He has covered armed conflicts, elections, financial crises, natural and human disasters as well as film festivals. Chris is also a media consultant and trainer, video producer, and has moderated panels for the World Economic Forum, OECD, OSCE, United Nations, World Bank and EU institutions. He studied Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley, and undertook post-graduate studies in Europe. Chris speaks five languages and holds dual US-French nationality.

Introduction by George Stylianou, former journalist and currently the House of European History’s PR, Outreach and Institutional Officer.

In the light of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the House of European History (HEH) is organising an online lecture series entitled ‘Envisioning Europe.’ From 22 June 2021 to 19 July 2022, the museum will share its floor with 12 prominent historians to exchange insights into Europe past and present. Voices from outside Europe will also contribute to contextualising this dialogue with external perspectives. Each lecture includes a moderated Q&A session.


Image credit: European University Institute