The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, an unprecedented honor for a political institution. And in fact, until recently, one could hardly think of a political and cultural brand more successful than the European. Even criticism hurled from the outside at the alleged decadence of the European lifestyle seemed laden with resentment and envy. The project of European union coalesced, after the two worlds wars and genocide of the twentieth century, as a bid to save all the good of modern Europe (the cultural creativity and material prosperity) from the bad (the nationalism and imperialism) that had destroyed it. The end of the Cold War and incorporation of the former Soviet Republics of Eastern Europe into the Union is only one marker of this amazing conquest of peace. All that said, the European brand has suffered severe blow after blow in the aftermath of the 2008 world financial crisis. Old internal questions about the democratic deficit in the Union have turned into existential ones. For, the EU seems increasingly divided between first- and second-class countries, first- and second-class citizens. More and more Europeans are asking whether the Union does more harm than good: is it actually a tool of solidarity and guaranteed future prosperity or rather the means whereby decisions made by elites and ‘experts’ are shoved down the throats of populations that would never vote for them? Should European nations give up their rights of democratic decision-making to a super-state of questionable democratic accountability? Could such a super-state actually ever be made democratic? We use thus the opportunity of our first even of the Humanities Discussion Series in Madrid to ask, in the midst of our very European institution, what Europe and being a European mean today. Is the EU our future, or our undoing?
Snacks and Refreshments Will be Served Before the Event