Framing narratives about shared history, norms and the future can be an important practice of creating transnational memory in Europe. This was the task of the European Union's ‘A New Narrative for Europe’ project initiated by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission during 2013–2014. Some 20 people from the cultural sphere formed a so-called Cultural Committee that eventually submitted the declaration ‘New Narrative for Europe: The Mind and Body of Europe’ to the Commission President and the German Chancellor in Berlin on 1 March 2014. Analysing the process of narrative production illustrates the strict limits of such top-down cultural engineering in a transnational polity like the EU, however. It highlights in particular, the deep schism between the two milieus of politicians and officials in Brussels and people from culture, their lack of narrative consistency and their inability to disseminate their ‘new narrative’ more widely under conditions of ad hoc transnational public spheres constituted by major crises, not declarations.