Basin inversion is an intermediate-scale manifestation of continental intraplate deformation, which produces earthquake activity in the interior of continents. The sedimentary basins of central Europe, inverted in the Late Cretaceous– Paleocene, represent a classic example of this phenomenon. It is known that inversion of these basins occurred in two phases: an initial one of transpressional shortening involving reverse activation of former normal faults and a subsequent one of uplift of the earlier developed inversion axis and a shift of sedimentary depocentres, and that this is a response to changes in the regional intraplate stress field. This European intraplate deformation is considered in thecontext of a new model of the present-day stress field of Europe (and the North Atlantic) caused by lithospheric potential energy variations. Stresses causingbasin inversion of Europe must have been favourably orientated with respect to pre-existing structures in the lithosphere. Furthermore, stresses derived from lithospheric potential energy variations as well as those from plate boundary forces must be taken into account in order to explain intraplate seismicity and deformation such as basin inversion.