Narrative Making in the European Capital

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?

Julia De Clerck-Sachsse

Dr. Julia De Clerck-Sachsse is an EU diplomat and academic specialising in international relations and identity politics. As a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at GMF she works on transatlantic relations, EU foreign and security policy, and foreign policy strategy. She is also leading a research project on the EU’s geopolitical narrative as an academic visitor at Oxford University.

Julia was Senior Adviser in the Policy Planning Staff of the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic corps, where she focused on transatlantic relations, strategic foresight, and the implementation of the EU’s foreign policy strategy. From 2012-2016 she served as the speechwriter and communications adviser to EU High Representatives for Foreign and Security Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton and Federica Mogherini. Julia has also worked for the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and Washington D.C.. As Senior Fellow with the Centre for European Policy Studies, she published widely on the European Union’s institutions and foreign policy and regularly commented on EU affairs in the media. Julia is also a Council Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Julia is an adjunct professor at Sciences Po Paris as well as at the Free University of Brussels where she is a member of the board of the Global Diplomacy programme. She holds an MPhil and DPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford.