Empty room of messy abandoned house, cupboard and chair in the middle

Abandoned border posts in Europe


Cultures of We | Silent roads, deserted parking lots, uninhabited buildings: This is what many border posts look like in Europe today. After the Schengen Agreement, identity controls became obsolete. The photographer Martin Sigmund traveled through Europe and photographed places of bygone times.

Postcard rack with art postcards in front of an old building

Vivid Examples of European Cultural Heritage

Let's Get Out of the Museums! | Is cultural heritage only ruins and dusty museum exhibits? The Germany portal "" says "No" and presents three "vivid" projects of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. Amongst the examples are a culture hackathon and a competition that links today's selfies and historical portrait painting.

Józef Piłsudski Memorial in the Polish town of Turek

Of Heroes and the Newly-Formed Polish State

Finally Independent: A New Beginning in Poland 100 Years Ago

ifa | 100 years ago, the map of East-Central Europe was redrawn. Towards the end of the First World War, the great empires that had dominated Europe perished. For Poland the year 1918 meant the formation of an independent nation state more than 120 years after the country had been partitioned by the German Empire, the Russian Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy. In the emerging Polish state Ukrainians, Germans, Jews and Belarusians lived alongside a majority of Poles. For the first time, binding rights for minorities were laid down. How did the Polish people feel about the events of 1918? What does the re-founding of the state 100 years ago mean to Poles today? Interview with Peter Oliver Loew, historian at the Darmstadt German Poland Institute

For an integrated European Research policy

Innovation in Cultural Heritage Research

EU Publications | 2018 marks the year of European Cultural Heritage. In the light of this event, Gabor Sonkoly and Tanja Vahtikari conducted a research which focuses on the importance of cultural heritage for European people. How relevant are they in terms of forming cultural identity? What needs to be done in order to preserve cultural heritage sights for future generations? A research paper exploring the history of cultural heritage sights, as well as modern ways of preserving these monuments of cultural significance.

Brexit - Shaken not Stirred. Photo: Ungry Young Man via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Research "Culture and Foreign Policy"

Brexit and Cultural Relations

ifa | Great Britain is leaving the European Union. It is not clear yet which kind of relationships the UK and its EU partners will develop, but both sides have to face challenges on many levels. Stuart MacDonald took a closer look on the field of Cultural Relations. With the ifa he talks about his study "The Impact of Brexit on International Cultural Relations in the European Union".

Jordaan, Amsterdam: Religion can be an important part of one's identity - being European another one. Photo: Michael Coghlan (CC-BY-SA 2.0)  via flickr

Pew study forecasts increase of "Muslim population" in Europe

Islam does not stand in antithesis to the West | The number of Muslims in Europe will rise. The result of a recently published study conducted by the Washington based "Pew Research Center" caught the attention of Europe’s press, especially in Germany. But what does that mean for Europe's cultural landscape? Is there a grain of truth in the polemics of right-wing populists? According to Loay Mudhoon we don't really have to fear a demographic shift. In her view, Muslim identities are too diverse to be measured by the same yardstick.

Resistance against Growing Nationalism, Nativism and Protectionism

Culture and Populism

ifa | For Richard Higgott, emeritus professor of international political economy, the cultural sector plays a special role in the resistance against movements which constitute a danger to democracy. "My intuitive assumption is that certain elements of the arts and the cultural industries will always play powerful roles in resisting different kinds of ideas", says the expert in ifa's research programme "Culture and Foreign Policy". In the report "Populist-Nationalism and Foreign Policy. Cultural Diplomacy, International Interaction and Resilience" he captures the essence of the so-called "populist nationalist zeitgeist" together with his colleague Virginia Proud. And he explains how one can face nationalist actors in foreign cultural policy.
Interview by Isabell Scheidt, Sarah Widmaier and Siri Gögelmann

Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel (CC0 1.0), via Unsplash

European Education Area

Strengthening European Identity

European Commission | "Education and culture are the key to the future – both for the individual as well as for our Union as a whole", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in the margins of the leaders' meeting in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017. The summit focused on EU efforts and ideas to improve the European Agenda in the area of education and culture – and thereby strengthening the sense of European identity. As a contribution to the summit in Gothenburg, the European Commission set out its vision of a European Education Area by 2025.

Brexit, photo: Jonathan Rolande (CC BY 2.0), via Flickr

Research Programme 'Culture and Foreign Policy'

The Impact of Brexit on International Cultural Relations in the European Union

ifa | 'Cultural cooperation will inevitably suffer from reduced freedom of movement, less money from loss of access to EU programmes, tariffs on trade in cultural goods and services, and increased bureaucracy from the introduction of customs checks.' There is a great deal of common ground and existing collaboration between Germany and the UK in the main areas of international cultural relations. This collaboration is supported by a range of instruments, some of which are at risk from Brexit, some of which are not directly impacted by Brexit. Which consequences will Brexit have for cultural cooperation between Germany and the UK? Which consequences are actual, which are only potential? How can Germany’s foreign cultural policy react at the initial stage of this process? How can intercultural exchange be secured with a long-term perspective despite Brexit?
Study by Stuart MacDonald

Citizen dialogue "Which Europe do we want?", Freiburg 2017. Photo: © Thomas Kunz

Citizen dialogue

Diplomats close up: A conclusion

ifa | Loud demands for more transparency and opportunities for co-determination occur on a regular basis. Political engagement of civil society extends far beyond the election of its representatives. Due to modern forms of communication and transport , foreign policy takes place in detachment from incumbents of political office. Does this make the work of diplomats obsolete? No, as foreign policy is a very complex field that requires a certain form of expertise. However, the exchange with the civilian population can be very fruitful. This was shown by the citizens' dialogue "Außenpolitik live- Diplomaten im Dialog (Foreign Policy Live - Diplomats in Dialogue)".

Photo: Toussaint Ruggeri (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)  via Flickr

The EU in the wake of Brexit

What holds Europe together?

ifa | Why do we really want Europe? Can we demonstrate to European citizens the opportunities offered by social politics and a strong social democracy in Europe? This is the aim of the new Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung project "Politics for Europe". In a random selection of persons eligible to vote in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the Czech and Slovakian Republics, persons were surveyed about their perceptions of the European Community and their expectations of the EU. The results show that European integration can be done in a democratic, economic and socially balanced way and with a reliable foreign policy.

Dieter Reinl, Federal Foreign Office; Sophie Haring, University of Passau; Valentin Naumescu, Babeș-Bolyai-University Cluj; Photo: ifa / Hochstätter

Foreign Policy live

Dialogue between citizens and foreign policy: expectations and reality

ifa | Pegida and TTIP are symptoms of society’s loss of confidence in the government. Civil-society actors are becoming increasingly more significant when it comes to shaping Germany’s foreign policy. What is the importance of participation here? Can dialogue formats break down distrust and create transparency? On 21 June 2017, Dieter Reinl and Valentin Naumescu discussed these topics in the German city of Passau. The discussion was moderated by Sophie Haring. By Odila Triebel and Daniela Hochstätter

Ph Crowd, Standing, People, Hand and Raise. Photo: Edwin Andrade via Unsplash

German civil society international

A conversation on the new foreign policy

ifa | In times of increasing political disillusionment and scepticism towards the state, reference is often made to civil society as an important contributor to shaping democracy. Many actors target neighbouring countries, regions or international politics with their activities. In their study "Zivilgesellschaftliche Akteure in der Außenpolitik [Civil Society Actors in Foreign Policy]" Prof. Dr. Daniel Göler and Robert Lohmann discuss the foreign policy of civil society. What is the meaning of 'civil society' in this context? How does this new form of foreign policy influence state actors?



News / Press Releases

Three-year project launched in Hanoi

Cultural and Creative Hubs Vietnam will bring people together to express artistic ideas and creativity.

British Council | 24.05.2018

Building a stronger Europe

New initiatives for further boost role of youth, education and culture policies | 23.05.2018