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The EU in the context of the long search for stability

The EU in the context of the long search for stability (Public Domain)

This section takes us back in time. It retraces our steps back to 1648 and tries and make sense of the European continent’s long evolution through wars, stability, and brief spells of bliss. Such an endeavour - making sense of the past, in sum - is a very complex one and, necessarily, one that is doomed to be incomplete. However, it is the very effort of ‘making sense’ that is essential, for the historian, for the learners, and for society at large. This section tries and enable students to develop the ability to critically analyse the past, while being able to identify change and continuity in the ways Europeans have tackled conflict, in all its aspects, be they social, political, or religious. Ideas of how the world should be have changed over the years, thus changing the way individuals and communities saw themselves, their place in the continent, and conflict itself. At times, conflict, and not peace, was considered even as desirable. In others, the absence of war did not mean absence of conflict: stability and peace have come to mean different things at different points in time. Our aim is therefore to put the modern European project in its historical context, and to show it as just the latest example of a long tradition of stability-seeking, peacekeeping, and conflict- management in Europe.

 Changing Europe
  1. Post-War Europe (1944-1951)
  2. The EU in the context of the long search for stability
  3. The EU in the context of a changing world

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.

Managing conflict in times of change (Public Domain)

Managing conflict in times of change

he way Europeans have looked at conflict, peace, and stability has changed over the centuries and was heavily influenced by social, economic, and political developments. The timeline tries to interpret this complexity by way of three main headings: Events, Ideas, The wider context. Each heading shows the evolution of Europe and its oscillations towards war and stability, but each one gives a particular angle that is meant to contribute to a more complete understanding of the period and of its trends. While the Events sections deals strictly with the episodes of conflict waging and conflict management in Europe, the wider context plunges the events in a more ample discourse on world trends. At times, this headline will show another angle of a featured event (example: 1701-1714, Wars of Spanish succession, is accompanied by a Wider Context note on Religion as part of power politics); in general, though, the Wider Context headline is meant to lead the student through the evolution of politics and society, in order to provide the students with the awareness that the discourse between stability and conflict did not happen in a vacuum, was heavily influenced by other events and trends, and evolved along with European society. The headline Ideas visually occupies the centre of the timeline. It is meant to be the guide through the different ways Europeans have approached peace, stability, conflict. Each item briefly shows how the actors participating to the events thought stability could be achieved: the evolution of their worldview passed through a concert of powers, a sheer one-power domination, an exchange of guarantees, a supranational body. The starting point of the timeline (1648) is a justified arbitrary decision of the editors. The Peace of Westphalia does arguably introduce a major change in the way powers negotiated and conflict was settled; nonetheless, as nothing in history happens in a vacuum, Westphalia is in itself a mere stage of older trends. The structure of the timeline hopefully allows for enough flexibility for cutting and adding parts, so that any educational need can be satisfied. The multistranded timeline can alternatively be accessed in the browser- version following this link: < /Managing-conflict-in-Europe-in-times-of-change/>


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