How do we tell the story of Europe? And why does it matter? The question of the narrative underpinning European integration has occupied policy makers, academics, and journalists from the founding days of what was then the European Coal and Steel Community. From the outset, a compelling narrative was seen to be at the heart of constructing a European identity, which in turn would underpin the political legitimacy of European integration (van Middelaar, 2013).
With the rise of populist movements, the United Kingdom vote to leave the EU, Russian interference in domestic affairs in many member states, and a transatlantic partner that openly questions the value and purpose of the Union, discussions about the narrative underpinning European integration have once again moved to the fore of both academic and political debates. What is more, identity politics and new technologies have shifted the debate towards more emotive and affective forms of political communication. Consequently, the focus is no longer just on the question of “What stories do we tell about Europe?” but also on “How do we tell them?”.
On her Europe’s Futures Fellowship in 2020/21, Julia will explore how communications professionals in the European Union’s capital deal with the increasing demand to define a constructing a European narrative through a more emotive and affective way of communicating. What are the institutional, structural, and conceptual boundaries they encounter? And what can be done to overcome these?