Emerging from centuries of intra-European conflict and the consequences of European colonialism, European society is defined by its diversity, pluralism and heterogeneity. Both ancient traditions and contemporary culture are celebrated and sometimes contested. As a result of this shared history, a set of values – tolerance, respect for individual rights, democracy, and freedom of expression – are commonly-espoused. A large proportion of the sovereign states that comprise the continent of Europe are politically, socio-economically and culturally interconnected within the framework of the European Union. However, European society, conceptualised in broad historical and cultural terms, is not synonymous with or defined by any particular territorial, jurisdictional or supra-national organisational entity.