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Beyond the Nation State - Cultures make Europe; Historic speech to Europe: Denis de Rougemont

  • BOZAR 50 Rue Ravenstein 1000 Brussels Belgium (map)
La décadence d’une société commence quand l’homme se demande: “Que va-t-il arriver?” au lieu de se demander: “Que puis-je faire?
— Denis de Rougemont

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.

Read Denis De Rougemont's L'attitude fédéraliste (PDF).

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 Director of European Cultural Foundation (ECF), will reflect 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, will comment on this speech from a contemporary European perspective and place it in the context of current EU developments. A Q&A session with the floor will follow, including students in European studies. The event will be moderated by Vanessa Mock, EU correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Brussels.

  • 13:30 – 13:45
    Opening of Good Morning Europe by BOZAR, NouvelOBs and European Cultural Foundation
  • 13:45 – 13:50                         
    Welcome and introduction by moderator Vanessa Mock, EU correspondent, Wall Street Journal, Brussels
  • 13:50 – 14:15                          
    Debate and reflection Raymond Georis, former Director ECF, Sylvie Goulard, Member of the European Parliament
  • 14:15 – 14:50                         
    Moderated discussion between panelists and the audience, including students European studies
  • 14:50 – 15:00                          
    Concluding remarks by moderator Vanessa Mock

12:30 - 13:45 You can also take part in the debate on Europe's future in the intimate setting of BOZAR's exhibition spaces. In the heart of the exhibitions devoted to Rubens and to painting in Siena, BOZAR AGORA is hosting round-table discussions on the role of culture in the European project and on the relations between citizens and the world of politics. Take your place alongside an artist and a political leader and get involved in their intense conversations. See the CITIZEN ROUNDTABLES page for further information.  

About Denis de Rougemont and the Historic Speech to Europe series

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) will put this historical speech by its founding father and Swiss philosopher Denis de Rougemont in the spotlight.

The event is part of a Historic(al) Speeches to Europe series, organised by ECF in Brussels (November 2014), Schwarzkopf Foundation Junges Europa in Berlin (December 2014) and Centre Internationl de Formation Européenne (CIFE) in Nice (January 2015). 

The Historic speech debate will be part of the two-day initiative Good Morning Europe supported by a broad cooperation of BOZAR, and French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, taking place at BOZAR from 6 to 7 November. Speakers include the new President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, previous President of the European Commission Jacques Delors, economist Thomas Piketty, French Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron, Danish Minister of Economy Margrethe Vestager and many more!

Photo credit: Denis de Rougemont by Erling Mandelmann, Wikimedia Commons