The motto of the European Union is 'United in Diversity', but some Europeans feel anything but united. Take for instance the Brexit vote; millions of Britons used the referendum to voice their discontent with the EU. And while Europe is a prosperous continent, right-radical and populist parties manage to gain many votes. In the Netherlands, but also in EU member states such as France and Germany.
Do the EU and its member states fail to create a harmonious society for all its citizens? Is diversity perhaps not such a binding factor?
Caroline de Gruyter, specialist on European affairs and correspondent at the Dutch newspaper NRC, and professor European Studies Paul Scheffer presented on September 15, 2017 their visions on this subject during the Europe Lecture, organised in cooperation with the Montesquieu-Prinsjeslezing. The lecture was moderated by Caspar van den Berg, associated with the University of Leiden.
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'Day in, day out, European member states clash on many subjects - and so they will always clash. They used to fight this out with guns. Now they fight with words. I think that's sheer progress.' These words were spoken by Caroline de Gruyter at the Europe Lecture 2017 in The Hague.
Caroline de Gruyter is Europe correspondent for the leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Between 2008 and 2013 she has lived and worked in Brussels, covering the euro crisis and European politics.
Paul Scheffer is professor European Studies in Tilburg. Earlier, he occupied the Wibaultleerstoel of metropolitan issues in Amsterdam.
The Prinsjesfestival Foundation organises a yearly recurring event in celebration of democracy, in cooperation with a great amount of other organisations. The festival is held in the same week of Prince's Day and offers a programme full of festive and informative activities. Each year has a specific theme. The theme of 2017 is 'Time to find each other; polarisation - pacification 1917-2017'. The year 2017 is the 100-year celebration of pacification: the end of the decades long struggle over suffrage and the 'Schoolstrijd' in the 20th century.
The Europe Lecture Foundation regularly organises a lecture about the meaning of Europe from a socio-economic, political or cultural perspective. In 1993, Jacques Attali kicked off the first Europe Lecture. From that point onwards, many inspiring speakers have maintained that tradition.