Branding Europe

There is an increasing urgency for Europe to restate its raison d'être. A clear and emotional story about what we are and what that is worth to us.

The extent to which the IS caliphate seems to appeal to young Muslims, the strong Kremlin propaganda machine, and the unstoppable flow of migrants at the gates: Europe can feel the threat of it all breathing down its neck. There is an increasing urgency for Europe to restate its raison d'être. A clear and emotional story about what we are and what that is worth to us.

Brussels is taking the first steps. European money has been used to set up a centre that is to develop a counter-narrative in response to IS. An attractive story, conceived and put into words by the best people in advertising and communications, to convince young Muslims of the Europe story. At the same time, another think tank is busy deciphering and refuting the communications from Putin's propaganda machine.

But what are our shared European standards and values? And where do we find our strongest advocates? We travel to Estonia, where young students discuss European values and anxiously watch Putin deliver his war speeches in their backyard. We talk to a think tank of Islam students led by Maurits Berger and to historian Mathieu Segers about what holds Europe together.

Is there such a thing as a common European story? Is it worth formulating that narrative, or is it already too late for that? Or is a common enemy the perfect means to bring unity to a continent that just can't seem to be able to unite?
The extent to which the IS caliphate seems to appeal to young Muslims, the strong Kremlin propaganda machine, and the unstoppable flow of migrants at the gates: Europe can feel the threat of it all breathing down its neck.