This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320294


EU citizenship needs a new narrative

The Networking European Citizenship Education conference of 2013 was titled “The EU and the promise of democracy: What can Citizenship Education and Civil Society contribute?”

The assessment of the current state of the European Union (EU) during the first evening of the conference was not very positive, considering  the EU remaining in a deep economic crisis with youth unemployment up to 40% in the southern European states, modern populism with strong anti-European feelings and a growing general discontent with the elites, amongst others. The EU project, according to Thomas Krueger, president of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education, can only become successful by being more open and transparent in order to (re)connect with European citizens.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, argues that there are two sides to European citizenship: on the one hand there are the European institutions, on the other hand there is the European heritage. The European institutions are standing far away from the average European citizen. But Timmermans believes that a shared history and a shared destiny create an understanding and will ultimately increase solidarity between EU citizens. Therefore, history education in European countries need to be improved in order for the EU project to successfully continue. The mantra of the evening was the need for a new narrative for the European Union, which so far appears to be the European currency: the euro. And, according to Professor Paul Scheffer (European Studies at Tilburg University), this is not nearly good enough..

The bEUcitizen project particularly values the historical perspective of European citizenship with a view to understand the barriers that European citizens face today better and to come up with viable solutions to remove these barriers. Such a perspective will also help to develop a new narrative, which is so much needed for the future success of the European Union and the establishment of a true European citizenship.