Welcome to this Historiana module about Europe and the European Union. It sets
the European Union in its historical context and enables students to
understand that Europe faces, and has always faced, dilemmas that require
decisions. The people of the continent of Europe have tried various different
ways of managing conflict across the centuries. They have formed alliances,
signed treaties, sometimes tried to dominate each other, and more recently
have formed supranational organisations where they have common interests. By
considering the European Union as one of these methods to manage conflict in
Europe, students can take a historical perspective on the contemporary world.
This world was very much formed by the Europeans who emerged from violent
conflict in the first half of the 20th century. The diverse life stories of a
variety of Europeans have much to reveal about the hopes and fears of Europe’s
people in the immediate post-war years. Some people decided that the way to
avoid violent conflict in future was to develop a European Union. That Union
tackles difficult dilemmas, such as how to keep the continent politically
stable, how to manage food supplies and how to agree foreign policy needs. The
decisions that have been made to find solutions to specific dilemmas often
lead to the need for further decisions to deal with unexpected consequences,
and of course European people are affected by world events and changes. By
taking an evidence-based and problem-solving approach this module will enable
students to engage with, and become more knowledgeable about, the European
This unit has been made by the team working on the projects "Decisions and
Dilemmas - Learning about the EU from a historical perspective” and “Decisions
and Dilemmas: exploring EU history through the lens of contemporary issues”.
These projects are funded by the European Union Erasmus+ Programme as a Jean
Monnet Activity. The European Commission support for the production of this
publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the
views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for
any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
This module is published under the CC BY 4.0 licence.