The great pioneer of European integration Denis de Rougemont believed in a cultural Europe, a Europe of direct participation of people beyond the nation-state. Sixty years ago the Swiss philosopher became a founding father of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF). He passionately believed in culture as a vital ingredient for Europe’s post-war rebuilding and healing. De Rougemont stated that a peaceful and democratic Europe could only last if European leaders and people work together towards an integrated Europe, anchored in a federal system. He presented the nation state as the main obstacle to a European federation and believed in a ‘Europe of the regions’: regions representing ethnic and cultural units that ensured more direct participation.
How relevant are the ideas of Denis de Rougemont on the role of Europe as a political and cultural project today, in light of the dramatic rise in nationalism in Europe these last few years? An increasing number of Member States of the EU concentrate on national priorities jeopardizing Europe as a political and cultural project. We need a new, shared idea of Europe that inspires, levers new energy and confidence in the future.
Raymond Georis, former Secretary General of European Cultural Foundation, reflected on the ideas of De Rougemont by reading out parts of his speech The Federalist Attitude dating from 1947. Sylvie Goulard, member of the European Parliament, commented on this speech from a contemporary European perspective and placed it in the context of current EU developments. A Q&A session with the floor followed. The event was moderated by Vanessa Mock, EU correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Brussels.