European Angst

  • European Angst © Sandra Kastl
  • Herta Müller © Goethe-Institut Foto: Caroline Lessire
  • European Angst BOZAR © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • Shermin Langhoff-Klaus-Dieter Lehmann © Goethe-Institut Foto: Caroline Lessire
  • Béatrice Délvaux-Didier Eribon © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • European Angst Day 1 © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • Paul-Scheffer-Firas-Alshater-Isolde-Charim © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • Slavoj-Zizek-Elif-Shafak-Martin-Ehl © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • Sonia-Mikich-Lukasz-Warzecha-Beppe-Severgnigni © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • Johannes Ebert © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire
  • Studenten © Goethe-Institut Photo: Caroline Lessire

A conference on populism, extremism and euro-scepticism in today's European societies.

Populism, extremism and Euroscepticism are haunting Europe, creating a tense atmosphere in which fear, hate, anger and anxiety converge: a climate of European Angst. The more momentum populist parties and movements gain, the more clueless the established political, cultural and legislative institutions seem to be. Why is this happening now? And how are we dealing with it? The conference European Angst will shed light on these questions in a unique way. It will leave the comfort zone of liberal consensus by inviting controversial thinkers, creating thus a space for passionate debate, for reflection and in-depth analysis.
Among the participants are the writers and philosophers Slavoj Zizek, Didier Eribon and Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller as well as 40 students selected in an open call. Representing tomorrow’s decision makers, they will play an active role in the conference, and they will draft a manifesto on Europe’s future to be handed over to EU officials.

Tuesday, 6 December: 15:30-20:30
Wednesday, 7 December: 08:30-17:30

, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, Rue Ravenstein- Ravensteinstraat 23

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MANIFESTO European Angst

Report „European Angst“ (DE)

Programme of the conference

European Angst press kit

Press Review

European Angst is an initiative by Goethe-Institut Brussels together with four EUNIC-members, the Czech Centre, the Alliance française de Bruxelles-Europe, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Polish Institute in Brussels, and BOZAR. It is supported by European Movement International, Evens Foundation, and the Ambassade de France en Belgique. Mediapartner: EU Observer



Herta Müller Photo: Stephanie von Becker

Herta Müller

“Politically instrumentalising fear is irresponsible. But there is absolutely no freedom without risk, otherwise we would be unable to move either in our minds or with our feet.”

Müller in an interview at the Erlangen poetry festival, Nürnberger Zeitung, 30 August 2016

Slavoj Žižek Photo: Tomaž Gregorič

Slavoj Žižek

“I believe a much greater threat is how we have become entangled in pseudo-conflicts in the midst of a crisis that could threaten our very survival – in the UK the yes or no to Brexit, the military regime or Erdogan in Turkey, and the new Baltic, Polish and Ukrainian fundamentalists or Putin in Eastern Europe.”

Žižek’s response to the question: “What frightens you?”, FAS,
18 September 2016

Elif Shafak Photo: Zeynel Abidin

Elif Shafak

“For me, Europe stands for values, fundamental rights, freedom and women’s rights. (...) Human rights and freedom of speech are key, essential issues which are non-negotiable.”

Shafak in an interview with Der Spiegel, 5 December 2015

Didier Eribon © Goethe-Institut Brüssel Photo: Caroline Lessire

Didier Eribon

“How is it possible to ignore so many people in everyday political life? The elites in Europe are not even aware that genuine poverty exists in their own countries.”

Eribon in an interview with Die Zeit,
4 July 2016

Béatrice Delvaux © Le Soir

Béatrice Delvaux

“The European Union is not in the position to meet the current challenges and to defend its own democratic structure which is increasingly resembling the UN – an observer of genocides condemned to eternal powerlessness, as the case of Syria again shows. European democracy is no longer in danger, it is already in a state of collapse. Do we want to continue standing on the side lines?”

Delvaux, October 2016

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann Photo: Goethe-Institut/Bettina Siegwart

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann

“With the prevailing mood of “European angst”, Europeans are being poorly advised. European integration will only succeed through active participation, not by evading responsibility. Simply leaving is cowardly. We must counteract this as people of culture. We have a social responsibility to the European cultural area.”

Lehmann, October 2016

Sonia Seymour Mikich © WDR

Sonia Seymour Mikich

“I don’t wish to lament the loss of our values and our Europe. I want us, the children of the Enlightenment, to have the last word, not to fire the last shot.”

Seymour Mikich commenting on TV in the wake of the Paris attacks, ARD, 14 November 2015.

Paul Scheffer Photo: Peter-Andreas Hassiepen

Paul Scheffer

“The more openly problems are discussed, the more peaceful societies will be. This concerns both sides – the majority who disadvantage minorities and members of minorities who isolate themselves owing to their prejudices. Arguing out these conflicts is not a sign of failed integration, but of a vibrant society.”

Scheffer in an interview with SZ,
31 January 2016

Isolde Charim Photo: Daniel Novotny

Isolde Charim

“Identity is the terrain on which the history of democracy will be played out in the near future.”

From an opinion piece on populism, taz, 23 February 2016

Łukasz Warzecha Photo: Damian Burzykowski/

Łukasz Warzecha

„Wer für Business as usual in Europa eintritt, ohne den neuen außenpolitischen Kurs der gegenwärtigen polnischen Regierung zur Kenntnis zu nehmen, heuchelt. All deren vermeintlich europafreundliche Bekenntnisse zu mehr Integration und besserer Zusammenarbeit sind von der Realität auf schmerzliche Weise widerlegt worden.“

Warzecha, in Rzeczpospolita,
31 January 2016

Beppe Severgnini Photo: Daniela Zedda

Beppe Severgnini

Europe’s narrative is controlled by its foes — and there are many, as we know. Bashing Europe is every politician’s pastime. A dangerous one, though.

Severgnini, October 2016

Sascha Lehnartz Photo: Martin Lengemann

Sascha Lehnartz

Also on the European mainland the voices are getting louder of those who are ready to break with a paradigm that appeared sacrosanct until recently – that a united Europe is a prerequisite for the continuation of peace.”

Lehnartz in an essay in Welt am Sonntag, 14 August 2016

Martin Ehl Photo: Martin Ehl

Martin Ehl

“Central Europe is not the only region currently affected by populist policies. But it is clear that if you do not have stable institutions, an efficient and independent judiciary or a professional state administration, it can be quite hard to stabilize the decisions of voters that sometimes go wildly off track following strange promises of even stranger people.”

Ehl in Op-Ed Metropole Vienna,
1 March 2016

Shermin Langhoff © Ute Langkafel MAIFOTO

Shermin Langhoff

„For the future of Europe I hope we can once again show the courage that prevailed on this continent in 1989 to bring down our own walls. We must now work on bringing down new walls and embrace the risk of openness as part of our spirit instead of following nationalistic sirens.”

Langhoff in a guest contribution on the ZDF series Europas Zukunft (Europe's future), 22 December 2015

Vladimíra Dvořáková Photo: Vladimíra Dvořáková

Vladimíra Dvořáková

“Relations in Europe and in other integrative systems give rise to very different interests. Political scientists characterise them as relations of cooperation and conflict. Such an organisation nevertheless requires cooperation to function. However, this does not mean it cannot protect its own interests.”

Vladimíra Dvořáková, October 2016 

Firas Alshater © Okayfactor GmbH/Cristian Zamora -

Firas Alshater

„Wenn die Leute Angst vor Flüchtlingen haben und sie nicht in ihren Ländern wollen, dann sollten sie aufhören, Waffen nach Syrien zu schicken. Großbritannien macht das, genauso wie Deutschland, die USA, Russland und Frankreich. So lange man Waffen verkauft, ist man zumindest teilweise verantwortlich.“

Alshater in The Guardian,
20 March 2016

Also on the panels