European Union



Getting to Know the European Union ...

January 2007 - December 2007

This project – Getting to Know the European Union: Member States in Focus – brings knowledge of the European Union, its policies, and institutions as they function on individual country level to a broader public through a series of public debates with European Ambassadors and local European Union representatives and the creation of a new website featuring audio transcripts of the debates and other Europe-related discussions, a podcast, and a virtual forum where Americans and Europeans can discuss life in the European Union and other relevant topics.

The project’s immediate goal is to generate knowledge of every day life in the European Union: to analyze the various ways European Union membership has influenced life in those countries and to raise local awareness of the European Union’s growing economic and political importance, in particular as partner to the United States. The debates center on the question: “What does it mean, in practice, to be a member of the European Union?” While many of our previous activities, including lectures by European Commissioners and policy experts, have addressed this question from the vantage point of Brussels, these debates – in an effort to engage ordinary citizens and to highlight local economic, social, and cultural connections to Europe –bring individual member state perspectives into focus.

The enlargement of the European Union has been a tremendous political success, securing peace and prosperity in the old member countries, galvanizing and stabilizing politics in new and aspiring members. But how does every day life change when a country joins the European Union? Do the social, economic, legal and institutional frameworks of the EU reflect a common set of beliefs and ideas on the part of its citizens? How flexible are those frameworks and how much diversity can they absorb? Given the economic and strategic importance of Europe to the United States, and the magnitude of the challenges ahead of us, these questions are highly relevant.

Our hope is to give citizens on both sides of the Atlantic a new tool to help them understand, anecdotally, the European Union and the principles which underlie it. The European Union presents Americans with an alternative model of citizenship – albeit still in formation – that is both local and regional. We hope that in the encounter with Europe, Americans will gain additional insights with which to evaluate their place in the world.

We hope to ignite local interest in Europe and engage the public in a serious debate on the European Union that goes beyond its political and structural aspects and considers instead the deeper meanings of “citizenship.” The project envisions the emergence of a global ecumenical culture with a revitalized transatlantic partnership at its core. In this regard, it furthers the Institute’s mission of improving transatlantic relations and increasing understanding across the Atlantic.

Getting to Know the Europeean Union: Events

The European Union: Unity in Diversity

East-Central Europe and the European Union

Getting to Know the European Union: Poland

Getting to Know the European Union: France and Germany

Getting to Know the European Union: Denmark and the Netherlands

Getting to Know the European Union: Austria

Getting to Know the European Union: Portugal and Spain

Getting to Know the European Union: Greece