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About the Scientific Head – Europe is more than we dare to dream!

Prof Dr Ulrich Reinhardt, Scientific Head of the Foundation for Future Studies

It is generally said of Europeans that we have a rather pessimistic view of the future. When I first proposed the idea of the "United Dreams of Europe" to my colleagues and friends in journalism some 18 months ago, I was met with an overwhelming – and rather typically European – scepticism: "A dream for Europe? – Europe is too busy being negative!"; "The subject of Europe is of no interest politically or publicly", or "If anything, it should be a book about the nightmare of Europe – something to suit our times".

I can understand these views – an optimistic dream for Europe is a difficult concept, and there are many reasons for this:

Let's start by looking back over the last 100 years in Europe, during which there were two devastating world wars and a series of failed political, economic and social experiments.

Furthermore, Europeans are afraid of ending up the losers in future developments. The more you have, the more you stand to lose and in these economically uncertain times the prospect of no longer being the wealthiest continent in the world is preoccupying Europeans more and more.

And then there’s the lack of trust: No trust in the established institutions, in our politicians, in our media landscape – and ultimately no trust in ourselves.

So what needs to happen before we Europeans start believing in a positive future once again? When will we Europeans recognise that we can only play an influential role in an increasingly globalised world if we stand together? And when will we Europeans start to live our dreams?

I've learned a lot over the last year and a half, primarily, despite all my reservations, that many other citizens of Europe also believe and it made me quite optimistic to see so much hope and confidence in the future among young Europeans. This was shown by the answers given to questions asked of more than 15,000 representative Europeans – and was confirmed by politicians in the European Parliament, students from throughout Europe and experts from a wide range of colleges and organisations. I am pleased and even a little proud to have stayed loyal to the idea of the "United Dreams of Europe" with the Foundation for Future Studies, despite all our fears. In the end, this project is and remains my European dream. At the same time, I hope that my dream comes true and maybe even more people begin to believe in it. For example, it would be "a dream" if more politicians were to support this project, if we could find partners who would help us to discuss the future of Europe publicly – such as at events which give representatives from a wide range of groups the chance to speak and to be heard. It would be a dream if media representatives from TV and radio, from highly regarded newspapers and from major online portals were to look deeper into the subject; if new dreams from all over Europe were posted on our website ( every day, creating a community that reflects the make-up of Europe.

And it is also my dream that "United Dreams of Europe" should only be the start, with the next step to follow directly: that Europeans from Helsinki to Palermo and from Lisbon to Athens should start to try and make these "United Dreams of Europe" come true. The European Dream can be much more than we dare to dream today. That's my dream.

Prof Dr Ulrich Reinhardt

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