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European democracy – from 1848 to today 

In 1848 revolutions across Europe created a democratizing wave across the continent, bringing citizens into the political fold to a then-unprecedented degree. 175 years on, 2023 offers an opportunity to reflect upon these revolutions in the context of the European Union, modern democracies, and the wider geopolitical context surrounding them.  

On 12 September 2023, we will host discussions with high-level speakers at a place of historical and symbolic importance: the Paulskirche in Frankfurt. The Paulskirche hosted the first democratically elected parliament of Germany in 1848. There we will reflect on the 1848 revolutions and where they could lead us to when thinking about the future of the European Union.  


This event is open to the public. The discussion will be held in German and French with simultaneous translation.  

In 1848, revolutions took place simultaneously across the continent, making Europe a significant space for discourse and political vision. What does this multilateralism and interconnectedness mean for us today? How can we take the lessons from 1848 into the present, when many of the problems at hand need to be solved on a European, rather than national level? 

13.30 – 14.00 Introduction 

Dr. Ina Hartwig, City Councilor, Head of Department for Culture and Science of the City of Frankfurt am Main 

Ilde Gorguet, Consul general of the French Republic in Frankfurt am Main 

Dr. Anna Lührmann, Minister of State for Europe and Climate at the Federal Foreign Office 

14.00 – 15.30 Podium Discussion  

Between European Democracy and the Nation State: How Do We Move Forward?  

We need a stronger and more flexible Europe. At the same time, many feel that the legitimacy of the European Parliament and national parliamentary control of governments are inadequate. How can this tension be resolved? Are our institutions too nationally structured to be capable of acting at the European level? What alternatives do we have? 

Dr. Katarina Barley, MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament  

Pervenche Berès, Former MEP, Member of the Franco-German Expert Group on Institutional Reforms  

Dr. Norbert Röttgen, Member of the Bundestag 

Charles Sitzenstuhl, Member of the French National Assembly

Moderation: Dr. Johannes Lindner, Jacques Delors Centre 

15.30 – 16.00 Break with Drinks  

16.00 – 17.30 Podium Discussion  

Before national conceptions: How European were the revolutions of 1848? 

How important were European thoughts and ideas during the revolutions of 1848? How relevant were national visions to the pursuit of democracy? What can we learn from these debates and visions for our democracy today? 

Dr. Alexandra Bleyer, Historian and author 

Dr. Jörg Bong, Literary scholar and author

Prof. Dr. Quentin Deluermoz, Historian at Paris Cité University 

Moderation: Dr. Nils Minkmar, Author 

17.30 – 17.45 Conclusion 

Dr. Johannes Lindner, Jacques Delors Centre 

17.45 Reception