Europe’s Multiple Faces

Dear Readers,

The face of Europe is changing. How many faces and what kind of faces does Europe have? Or is Europe faceless? For intellectuals, Europe’s face is shaped more by the ideas of its thinkers or by the culture of its nations. For travelers, Europe is portrayed through its landscape and historical monuments. The image of Europe, for people around the world, is influenced by the goods it produces. And for its citizens, Europe is represented by its institutions, primarily those of the European Union. Do European institutions properly reflect Europe’s face? Do they connect with the hearts and minds of Europeans? And what about European political leaders?

European history clearly demonstrates how the longing for the single face of a leader, endowed with unchallenged authority, has always paved the road to serfdom. Plurality in political leadership, in contrast, prevents the risk of hegemony and preserves liberty. The ongoing struggle for public attention makes it impossible for anyone to become “the face of Europe.” There is no single Mr. or Mrs. Europe. The days are over when large parts of Europe were in the shadow of giant portraits of Hitler and Stalin. Europe’s freedom is secured by ongoing dialogue concerning values involving multiple faces: Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Jean Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Viktor Orbán and Sebastian Kurz. Today’s face of Europe seems more like a Cubist portrait painted by Emil Filla or Pablo Picasso.

In this issue of Aspen Review Central Europe, we present a mosaic of views and attitudes toward today’s European challenges. In an interview, former Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda addresses both the questions of EU rules and institutions and the lack of political leadership among the members of the club. Thematic articles cover the tension between liberty and control, efficiency and accountability, the EU budget and the eurozone. The reviews of Ivan Krastev’s After Europe and Fareed Zakaria’s The Future of Freedom, two seminal books dealing with challenges to liberal democracy in Europe, place these challenges into more of a historical and global perspective.

We will continue to examine political leadership style along with the values of the free world and an open and democratic society. Stay tuned for Aspen Institute’s events and publications!

Jiří Schneider

Jiří Schneider entered public life after democratic changes in 1989 when he was elected to the Czechoslovak Parliament (Federal Assembly) in 1990 and 1992. In 1993 he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held various positions at the Czech diplomatic service. Most prominently he served as Ambassador to Israel (1995-1998) and First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic (2010-2014).


Jiří Schneider graduated at The Czech Technical University (ČVUT) and obtained a Diploma in Religious Studies from University of Cambridge. From 2000 to 2009 he lectured on security studies, international relations, public policy, and the role of think tanks in Central Europe at Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, and New York University in Prague. During the International Policy Fellowship at the Central European University in Budapest he published on Think Tanks in Visegrad Countries (2003) and Lobbying and Interest Representation (2007). He was closely associated with the Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI), a leading Czech security think tank, as a Program Director (2005-2010) and most recently as a Senior Fellow and Director of Special Projects (2014-2015).


Jiří’s engagement with Aspen dates back to the early 90ʼs when he was a fellow of Aspen Institute Germany. More recently he supported the establishment of Aspen Institute Prague and served as a member of its Supervisory Board from 2011 to 2014.

Share this on social media

Support Aspen Institute

The support of our corporate partners, individual members and donors is critical to sustaining our work. We encourage you to join us at our roundtable discussions, forums, symposia, and special event dinners.

These web pages use cookies to provide their services. You get more information about the cookies after clicking on the button “Detailed setting”. You can set the cookies which we will be able to use, or you can give us your consent to use all the cookies by clicking on the button “Allow all”. You can change the setting of cookies at any time in the footer of our web pages.
Cookies are small files saved in your terminal equipment, into which certain settings and data are saved, which you exchange with our pages by means of your browser. The contents of these files are shared between your browser and our servers or the servers of our partners. We need some of the cookies so that our web page could function properly, we need others for analytical and marketing purposes.