Europe’s Futures

Ideas for Action

Did you know ?

In a number of EU member states democracy is backsliding, as are signs of the Union’s vitality such as enlargement.

As Europe looks for its place in the face of current tectonic shifts of geopolitics, multiple dynamics are at play.  The rule of law within the European Union continues to be challenged by a variety of internal and external forces. A sense of powerlessness and disenfranchisement has led many on a search for simplistic and illusionary solutions, readily offered by nationalist-populist parties and identitarian movements bent on instigating enmity towards all that is seen as “foreign” to a perceived “authentic” home culture.

Others, a majority, continue to believe that the liberal democratic model, based on the rule of law and human rights, with all its faults, is still valid and worth upholding and fighting for. The EU will have to put in a great deal of effort to maintain what has been painstakingly built and nurtured since the peace after 1945.

“Existential fear for the survival of the community was the decisive factor that rendered the status of democracy…unstable… This shock gives birth to the most hideous monster of modern European political development: anti-democratic nationalism.”

What can we do?

We have to take care that European institutions be preserved and functioning, and that they be much more responsive to the grievances of citizens.

Democracy is a fragile institution that needs to be nurtured on a daily basis, through civic engagement at all levels of society and across institutions domestic and European. Europe needs to stand in a rapidly changing world as the bearer of the messages of the Enlightenment: democracy, the rule of law and human rights, a world in which the public space is open for all to engage in.

In 2018, we initiated Europe’s Futures, a network of some of the leading Austrian and European civil society organisations with prominent academics, activists, journalists engaged as fellows under the auspices of the Institute for Human Sciences’ (IWM) leading intellectuals Ivan Vejvoda and Ivan Krastev.

We research processes driving illiberalism, nationalism and populism.

We look for innovative responses to major challenges faced by the European Union in relation to the rule of law and migration.

We advocate for a better functioning and enlarged European Union.

Why are we doing this?

We are gathering and supporting people with ideas in creating, and promoting, new perspectives for a reinvigorated, unified and democratic Europe. We engage liberal-democratic voices from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in high-level academic, social and political debate on the future of the European Union, making Vienna a particular point of encounter. It is an endeavour based on in-depth research, concrete policy proposals, and encounters with state and civil society actors, public opinion and the media.


A philanthropic initiative for democracy and solidarity in Europe

Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.