Cartoon by Jorge Martin from Dahrendorf Symposium

Dahrendorf Forum

A space for debating Europe through original research and public engagement:

The Dahrendorf Forum is a joint initiative between LSE and the Hertie School in Berlin, funded by Stiftung Mercator and honouring the legacy of former LSE Director Lord Ralf Dahrendorf.

To ask all those questions that no one else dares to ask.

Lord Ralf Dahrendorf

Dahrendorf Forum reports

The EU and the Responsibility to Protect in an Illiberal Era

The 2005 United Nations agreement on the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) populations from atrocities was intended to set acceptable boundaries to ‘humanitarian intervention’, but it is still extremely controversial and vulnerable in a world of increasing nationalism and illiberalism. Can the European Union help to ‘rescue’ R2P? 

EU–UK Cooperation in CSDP After Brexit: Living apart together?

With increasing tensions between Russia and the West and uncertainty in the transatlantic relationship, the UK’s vote in June 2016 to exit the EU could not have come at a less convenient time. But Brexit may, paradoxically, reinforce the need for closer EU–UK security and defence cooperation. In this policy brief, An Jacobs and Sophie Vanhoonacker look at the reasons why it is in the interest of both the EU and the UK to continue collaborating through the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Britain in the Post-Brexit European Security Architecture

Britain’s impending withdrawal from the EU raises important questions about the future of EU–UK security cooperation. This Dahrendorf Forum policy brief explores the content and scope of European security cooperation after Brexit by analysing the respective strategies, institutional structures, and operational capabilities of the EU and the UK.

A ‘Hybrid Threat’? European militaries and migration

The military has become an important part of European responses to increased migration flows. This Dahrendorf Forum working paper explores the effectiveness and long term impact of military involvement in migration enforcement.

Known Unknowns: EU foreign, security, and defence policy after Brexit

This Dahrendorf Forum Working Paper examines the future of EU foreign and defence policy after Brexit by asking: Will the UK reduce its European defence commitments? Will Brexit cause greater defence integration within the EU? And will the EU allow the UK a continuing European security and foreign policy role? 

US, Russia, and the World: The Passing of Empires

In this Dahrendorf Forum report, former UK Ambassador to Russia Sir Rodric Braithwaite explores how recent American and European decline mirrors the collapse of the Soviet Union and what's next for NATO and Russia in a multipolar world order. 

New Challenges, New Voices: Next Generation Viewpoints on Transatlantic Relations

This report offers views on the future of transatlantic relations from scholars who are at the start of their careers, with European and US perspectives on what the future holds in defence, economics, values, and relations with emerging powers.

Changing Waters: Towards a new EU Asia Strategy

The EU-Asia relationship is changing, from development assistance to cooperation – and possibly competition. This report explores an overhaul of the EU's 2001 Asia Strategy, more important than ever in the context of Asian economic growth and the US 'pivot'.

Avoiding a New 'Cold War': The Future of EU-Russia Relations

The feeling that we are experiencing the emergence of a New ‘Cold War’ is increasingly creeping into European and Russian discourse. This report provides a series of clear policy recommendations on how to move from a deeply confrontational mind-set to a more cooperative one.

Europe in an Asian Century

This report, based on presentations at the Dahrendorf Symposium, explores how China looms large in Europe’s recovery from the crisis and is increasingly interested in Europe’s future for economic and wider strategic reasons.

Dahrendorf Forum events and podcasts

Dahrendorf Symposium

Europe and the World - Global Insecurity & Power Shifts

The Dahrendorf Symposium is a high-profile event debating Europe’s future, attended by around 300 European policymakers and foreign policy experts. View full videos, Symposium publications, and a cartoon summary from the 2016 event in Berlin.


The French Revolution: one year on Co-hosted with the LSE European Institute

How successful has Emmanuel Macron's first year as President of France been? Jean Pisani-Ferry, former Director of ideas on the Macron campaign, and journalist Christine Ockrent discuss.

Counter Revolution: liberal Europe in retreat Co-hosted with the LSE European Institute

Liberal ideas are under attack across Europe. In this lecture, Jan Zielonka explores the sources of this counter-revolution to the liberal establishment and asks if Europeans can feel secure again? 

The Catalan Crisis: populism and secessionism Co-hosted with the LSE European Institute and The Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on the political, social and economic factors that have led to the growth of populism and secessionism in Catalonia and possible solutions to the current political blockade.

EU Foreign, Security, & Defence Policy after Brexit

Does Brexit create an opportunity for more defence integration in Europe by removing the UK veto, or will the damage from losing British military capabilities be too great?

Less Populist, More Popular: my vision for the EU in 2018

In this speech Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, will set out his political priorities for the coming year.

Gordon Brown: a life in politics
LSE European Institute-LSE IDEAS event

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke at LSE on his extraordinary career, from New Labour's 1997 landslide electoral victory to the 2008 global financial crisis and the historic 2014 Scottish and 2016 European referenda.

The European Union at the Crossroads: Brexit and After

With the UK heading for Brexit, the European Union faces a historic challenge but also an opportunity to rethink its own future. French Minister Axelle Lemaire, historian Margaret MacMillan, and Lord Giddens debated Brexit and the future of Europe.

Changing Waters: Towards a New EU Asia Strategy

The EU-Asia relationship has changed. At this event, contributors to the LSE IDEAS report Changing Waters spoke about the future of EU-Asia relations from building a new development relationship, expanding the EU's role in Asian security, and Chinese perspectives on the EU.               

Europe & the Return of Geopolitics

In this Dahrendorf Forum lecture, Ambassador Pierre Vimont, first executive secretary-general of the European External Action Service, asked whether the EU - designed to prevent geopolitics - can meet the challenge of their return in the Ukraine crisis.

Russia and the EU: back to realism?

At this Dahrendorf Forum lecture, leading Moscow analyst and Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs Fyodor Lukyanov argued that it's time to redefine the Europe - Russia relationship based on a pragmatic understanding of respective interests and capabilities.

The Crisis in European Security

Experienced European diplomats Robert Cooper and Wolfgang Ischinger were joined by Professors Karen Smith and Robert Falkner for this Dahrendorf Forum discussion on the Ukraine crisis and how to restore a “Europe whole and free”.

Private Events

International Politics Launch Event: Europe in an age of global turmoil

To mark the recent publication of the Dahrendorf Forum’s special issue of International Politics, ‘Rethinking Europe’s external relations in an age of global turmoil’, experts from the UK and Germany discussed Europe’s position in an unsettled and rapidly changing world.

China, Brexit, & the EU: Challenges, Uncertainties, & Opportunities?

This China Foresight-Dahrendorf Forum workshop explored strategic aspects of China-EU relations and how the Brexit debate will impact the newly revived bilateral relationship between Beijing and London. Included speakers from the Italian Foreign Ministry and the French Embassy.

Dahrendorf Forum publications

Journal Special Issues

International Politics Special Issue
Europe and the world: Rethinking Europe's external relations in an age of global turmoil

Against a backdrop of external insecurity and global power shifts abroad, and institutional crisis and strategic drift at home, this Special Issue of the International Politics journal (based at LSE IDEAS) brings together a selection of papers based on the collaboration and research findings of the Dahrendorf Forum’s third project cycle (2015-2017), ‘Europe & the World: Global Insecurity and Power Shifts’.

Global Policy Special Issue
Europe and the World: Global Insecurity and Power Shifts

Dahrendorf warned long ago that Europe may be ill prepared for the challenges of globalisation. To address this questions from diverse perspectives, this special issue of Global Policy, guest edited by Helmut K. Anheier and Robert Falkner, brings together contributions from the Dahrendorf Symposium 2016.

Working Papers

Known Unknowns: EU foreign, security, and defence policy after Brexit

This Dahrendorf Forum Working Paper examines the future of EU foreign and defence policy after Brexit by asking: Will the UK reduce its European defence commitments? Will Brexit cause greater defence integration within the EU? And will the EU allow the UK a continuing European secuity and foreign policy role? 

The EU and its Neighbours: reconciling market access, governance, and democracy

The European Union’s relationships with its non-member neighbours present a serious challenge for the continent’s political and economic future. Brexit has brought this challenge into sharp focus, but it is not the only contentious relationship the EU must negotiate, nor is it the first. In this paper, Kevin Featherstone examines the cases of Norway and Switzerland for lessons on the design and impact of future agreements between the EU and external parties.

Policy Briefs

Dahrendorf Policy Briefs offer up-to-date analysis of major themes in global affairs, addressing a specific issue and providing recommendations to policymakers.

Brexit and Beyond: The Future of Europe

Discussion of Brexit tend to focus on factors unique to Britain. This Policy Brief explores the European wide factors that influenced the vote and still need to be addressed by the EU.

The Future of Facts: how can we save political journalism and what happens if we fail?

In this policy brief, Andrea Römmele and Rafael Goldzweig look at how fake news is affecting politics and what lawmakers can do about it.

Lessons Learnt from the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement

This policy brief suggests a path forward that goes beyond using the agreement as a blanket model that prioritises European domestic policy over Turkish stability.

Are Europe’s wind and solar industries still attractive for Chinese companies?

This policy brief reflects on the present state of Chinese FDI in the European solar and wind sectors, with recommendations for European, and especially German, stakeholders.

The EU’s Global Strategy: Three Quotations

The EU is currently developing its new Global Strategy. Sir Robert Cooper argues that strategy is needed but that the machinery that implements it is no less important.

Is the Transatlantic Century Over?

In this Policy Brief from the Dahrendorf Forum, Cora Lacatus explores how changes in the power of the United States will affect the European Union and the future of the Transatlantic relationship.

Towards an EU Global Strategy

The European Union is revising its Security Strategy in light of new challenges. Can the EU meet the need for effective risk assessment and crisis management to create a revolution for external action? This Policy Brief from the Dahrendorf Forum summarises a roundtable with EU and German government officials.

Europe's Role in the World

After 2014, the year of crises, how can Europe take stock of its role in the world? This briefing from the Dahrendorf Forum includes five policy recommendations from former diplomats on building European foreign policy after the rise of ISIS and the Ukrainian conflict.

EU Neighbourhood Policy in Africa 

How can the EU be more effective in North Africa? The policy recommendations in this brief from the Dahrendorf Forum include country specific policies, use of micro-level conditionality, and more External Action Service staff.

Dahrendorf Analyses 

Dahrendorf Analysis papers cover a wide range of content, including research-in-progress, essays and detailed material targeted at expert audiences.

European Union in the World 2025: Scenarios for EU relations

Under pressure from Russia, migration, terrorism, reduced trade with China, and transatlantic tension, can Europe meet the challenge and shape its future in the world? This Dahrenorf Analysis looks at the EU in the year 2025, with 18 scenarios for its relations with its neighbours and strategic partners.

Bringing Academics Closer to Foreign Policy

Bridging the gap between academia and policy has been the effort of many projects and institutions. In this Dahrendorf Analysis, Julia Himmrich highlights the academic debate about influencing policy and the often cited issues, such as access and communication between researchers and policymakers.

Europe’s Underestimated Influence in Qatar’s Foreign Policy

During the past decade, the European perception of Qatar has dramatically changed. This Dahrendorf Analysis illustrates that European foreign policy actors should not underestimate the impact of European discourse on its partners in the Gulf region.

What impact would a Brexit have on the EU?

This Dahrendorf Analysis outlines how Brexit might change the EU by outlining its possible impact in three scenarios for the EU’s future: an EU that falls apart, continues to muddle through, or integrates further.  

Forget Fortress Europe: Why European migration policy needs a drastic change of perspective

Annette Jünemann argues that refugees themselves, not states or Europe, should be at the centre of solutions to migration policy.

In 2010 LSE, the Hertie School and Stiftung Mercator created a joint initiative to honour Lord Dahrendorf’s legacy as a leading sociologist and public intellectual with a passionate commitment to the European idea.

The initiative has now grown to become the Dahrendorf Forum, a major research and policy engagement network bringing together academics and practitioners to debate and critically reflect upon Europe’s future.  

The current research cycle, running from September 2017 to June 2020, is entitled The Future of Europe: Strategic Options for an Era of Uncertainties.

It brings together academics and policymakers to address how Europe can constructively respond to Brexit, the migration crisis, the rise of populist movements, and other challenges it is currently facing.

Two working groups, The Future Of European Governance based in London and Societal Change, Politics and the Public Sphere in Berlin, are leading the Dahrendorf Forum's research. 

Ralf Dahrendorf

The Forum takes its name from Ralf Dahrendorf (1929-2009).

Professor Dahrendorf rose to academic fame in post-war Germany as a leading social scientist with a wide range of interests in sociology and political thought. He entered politics in the late 1960s, becoming a Member of the German Bundestag in 1969. In 1970 he became a Commissioner in the European Commission. From 1974 to 1984 he served as Director of the LSE and was appointed to the House of Lords in 1993 as Lord Dahrendorf of Clare Market.

Writing in 1969, Dahrendorf famously defined the role of the public intellectual thus: “to doubt everything that is obvious, to make relative all authority, to ask all those questions that no one else dares to ask”. Whilst throughout his life Dahrendorf was always passionately committed to the European project, he was never blind to its shortcomings and the challenges of integration.

In his work he sought to defy boundaries in academic and policy debates on Europe, questioning the established consensus and highlighting issues that might otherwise be ignored – not for criticism’s sake but in order to move Europe forward. Never before have these principles of critical thinking been so timely or relevant as today as we confront the immense and fundamental challenges currently facing Europe. 

Research Cycles

The project runs in research 'cycles' on different topics, each with multiple working groups of academics and policy practitioners and culminating in a major international symposium.

Fourth cycle, Started in 2017, Symposium 2019: The future of Europe: Strategic options for an era of uncertainties

Third cycle, Symposium 2016: Europe and the World - Global Insecurity & Power Shifts (Symposium)

Second cycle, Symposium 2013: Changing the European debate: Focus on Climate Change

First cycle, Symposium 2011: Changing the Debate on Europe: Moving beyond Conventional Wisdoms