Addressing the European Solidarity Crisis through Education | Conversations for the Future of Europe | 2020 #2

14th April 2020 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia
Via Giovanni Boccaccio
121, 50133 Firenze FI
European Governance and Politics Programme

LogosIn the early stages of European integration, the founders were insistent on the need to nurture European spirit among citizens to engage them in the project, and identified education as a mechanism to achieve such a goal. However, early cultural initiatives to develop education policy at European level bore little fruit due to the sensitivity surrounding education’s close linked to nation-building and national identity. Education eventually found its way to European level cooperation thanks to a close link to economic objectives, finding an open door via vocational training and a developing need to educate economic migrant workers’ children. More recently, it has risen up the European agenda as part of the Lisbon 2020 strategy to foster a knowledge economy in response to overcoming the financial crises of the late 2000s. While the Erasmus Programme has made a significant contribution to stimulating a sense of Europeanness among citizens, its impact remains relatively limited to intellectually elite circles.

In the face of increasing anti-European sentiment, there is an emphasis on reinforcing the concept of European citizenship and addressing a supply-and-demand challenge for European solidarity. More recent communications (e.g. COM(2017) 673; COM(2018) 268) show a return to the narrative on fostering European spirit, reviving the explicit connection between education and promoting European identity across all angles of society. Using education to foster European identity, solidarity and spirit remains an effective tool in theory, but in practice, the EU continues to face longstanding challenges.

How can repeating proposals be developed to overcome these challenges? There is a reoccurring suggestion to create educational institutions, including the EUI’s own School of Transnational Governance and the recent launch of the CIVICA initiative. What role can today’s educational institutions, and education more widely, play in developing a sense of Europeanness and increased solidarity among Europe’s citizens of today for the Europe of tomorrow, that overcomes the obstacles of yesterday’s initiatives?


Brigid Laffan (EUI – Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)

Philippe van Parijs (Robert Schuman Fellow and Université Catholique de Louvain)

Andrea Sangiovanni (EUI – Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Juri Viehoff (EUI – Department of Political and Social Sciences)


Lorenzo Cicchi (EUI – European Governance and Politics Programme)


Sarah Katherine St John (EUI – Middle East Directions)

Alain Lamassoure (former Member of the European Parliament)


Dieter Cornel Schlenker (EUI – Historical Archives of the EC)



The event is co-organised by Thoughts for Europe (TfE)

Thoughts for Europe (TfE) offers a space for policy-oriented discussions that take account of the diversity of the EUI community and let us think of the EU in pragmatic terms. TfE raises awareness among the EUI on challenges and opportunities of the European project, and encourages self-education on various EU issues by sharing knowledge, expertise, and experience. We foster a genuine (but critical) European spirit: moulded out of cultural, political, geographical diversities, and interdisciplinary perspectives.

An initiative of EUI Researchers
European University Institute | Twitter: @ThoughtsforEU


Conversations February – May 2020

Objective: To guide the steps of the European Union and to mobilise its citizens so as to make policy change possible, it is not sufficient to analyse the past and criticise the present. It is necessary to develop concrete proposals for a better future and to subject them to critical multidisciplinary discussion. The Conversations for the Future of Europe aim to contribute to such discussion. The focus of our Conversations will be to consider concrete and politically feasible projects which may guide the future development of the Union. A concern for political applicability, however, is compatible with creativity and boldness. Indeed, it may require it.

Format: Each Conversation will focus on one issue manifesting as a major challenge to the EU. The issue will be briefly introduced by tone or two speakers, presenting a brief proposal for how to address this challenge. Presentations will be followed by comments from one or two discussants after which, there will be a general discussion.

Output: The aim of the Conversations is to facilitate debate and inspire far-sighted, creative ideas for how to address current policy problems.

All events part of the Conversations on the Future of Europe series can be found here.