Stella Ghervas

4. From the spirit of the Enlightenment to the ‘spirit of Lisbon’

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Seminar directed by Stella Ghervas
Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA) - Paris (France)

4th session: Study day: “From the spirit of the Enlightenment to the ‘spirit of Lisbon’”
Thursday 19 November 2009, 9.00 AM–6.00 PM, IEA - Paris (France)

Between periods of war, the European continent has known times of intense quest for political solutions to ensure peace. Major treaties, such as the Holy Alliance, the founding of the League of Nations and later the treaties of the European Community, were forged by the gathering in a single place of people from diverse horizons. They were brought together by exceptional circumstances (typically the end of a war or the collapse of an empire) in order to work on a common reconstruction project that was, in their eyes, grandiose. These ideas and sentiments shared by a particularly active milieu are commonly referred to as spirit, such as the spirit of the Enlightenment, the spirit of Vienna (after 1815) or the spirit of Geneva (during the Interwar period), each of which played a substantial role in the history of Europe.

More recently, and with regard to Eastern and South-eastern Europe, should we assert that the existence of a fault line, from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Iron Curtain, was merely a break in this process of European convergence that goes back to earlier periods, when the continent was considered a single entity? Lastly, would it be appropriate to speak of a “spirit of Lisbon” about the recent treaty amending the European Union (using the words as Jean-Luc Dehaene, one of its authors)?

On the occasion of this study day, we will review a chronology of key moments when the European consciousness took shape, in the specific groups and privileged milieus that were involved in these projects.