The future of Europe
Europe’s development since the Second World War has certainly been a success story. However, in the context of increasing globalisation, one question needs to be asked. How is the continent responding to the challenges posed by the 21st century and what role does Europe want to play in a completely globalised world?
The “Europeanisation” of the 20th century could be seen as a model for globalisation trends in this millennium. The motto of the European Union – United in Diversity – could establish itself as a vision for the globalised world. Consequently, a view of the future emerges of a world that is aware of its diversity, that highlights the plurality of different societies but at the same time specifies a shared canon of values as a complementary and binding foundation.
This is reflected, for example, in the increasing importance of pro-social values such as the emphasis on family and friends, the high agreement rating throughout Europe in response to the question about “individual happiness” and the consistent designation of the social divide as a major problem for society.
The emphasis on quality of life rather than standard of living is the key finding in a pan-European change in attitudes, which is gaining a new momentum in the current period of crisis: Europeans define themselves increasingly by their own feeling of well-being and no longer only by their increased prosperity – a model for a “post-affluent society”.
This could be Europe’s opportunity for the future: the continent would be an economic union, a political alliance, a communal cultural space and a geographical unit – yet it would also be defined as a counter model for China or the USA. The European way of life already holds a certain appeal, precisely because of its relationship between prosperity and quality of life, its social flexibility and its transformation potential. A willingness to shape the future and the confidence to do so are crucial. The European studies carried out by the Foundation give cause for a fundamental optimism here: the majority of Europeans agree that Europe can (only) succeed in the future if we work together and help each other.