This contribution was delivered on 6 May 2022 on the occasion of the hybrid 2022 edition of EUI State of the Union on ‘A Europe fit for the next generation?' What can history teach us about the importance of democracy and rule of law as characteristics of European political life? What is at stake? History has often been our guide, offering a benchmark for worst and best practice. In this session, world-leading scholars of Europe, law and democracy, canvas the different contexts in which the rule of law has come under pressure in Europe, whether in the context of security and fighting terror, pitting nationalism against integration, or dealing with Europe’s often violent past. They will also ask: can we learn from the past when we are thinking of the present and future of Europe? What lens should we use to help better understand the authority of the rule of law, the significance of democracy and its alternatives today?