The Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) also focused on the historical foundations of modern Europe in the modern era in its research programme between 2007 and 2012.
Firstly, this research on the foundations of Europe investigated the integrating and antagonistic movements and forces that gave the (geographical) continent and the (cultural) semantic context of "Europe" a form which changed over the centuries but remained distinct from the other continents. The hallmarks of Europe not only include integrative forces and consciously forged links. Europe has been (and is) characterized by the temporal and geographical concentration of small conflicts and wars which threatened humanity itself. Thus, this research focused on bilateral and multilateral transfer processes which resulted from communications links which encompassed all or part of the continent. The protagonists in these transfer processes were not always conscious of being part of "European" contexts. The religious and confessional aspects of these transfer processes are a focus of the interdisciplinary work of the Institute.
Secondly, this research on the foundations of Europe retraced the history of conscious consideration of Europe, and analysed the political efforts towards unification, concrete plans for Europe, idealistic concepts of Europe and utopian visions of Europe – while always including anti-European thought. An integral part of this approach was historiographical history, that is, the history of the writing of European history.
Thirdly, the scope of this project included reflections on the theory and methodology of historical research on Europe. The IEG unveils the "hidden agendas" of "European" approaches in the historical sciences and puts them in their original cultural contexts respectively. The emancipatory impetus in the foundation of the Institute of European History – to overcome historical prejudices and obstacles to the peaceful coexistence of the European peoples and confessions through more accurate knowledge of historical developments – was further developed by means of a critically distanced perspective.
For the period from 2007 to 2012, four research areas were established, which worked in a cross-departmental way:
- Europe as a challenge for politics, society and the churches
- Communication and transformation in religion and society
- Spatial research on the history of Europe since 1500
- Changes in values and historical awareness
The four research areas were encompassed by a cross-sectional area and supplemented by futher research.