An increasing number of citizens are deciding against established politics and against Europe – at least against the European Union as we know it today: challenges to the transfer of sovereignty from the national to the European level and the liberal canon of values for which the Council of Europe and the EU stand: checks and balances, minority rights and universalist human rights. Several critics swear by the national community and challenge Europe’s cohesion and ability to act. The European Union is divided on many issues, such as unemployment and economic stagnation, the financial crisis or refugee policy, and is further stoking its crisis of legitimacy.
Why do we need a common Europe? Sixty years after the signing of the Treaties of Rome, can the European Union provide credible responses in areas such as a common foreign and security policy, a sustainable economic and infrastructure policy, a refugee and asylum policy that measures up to the current challenges?
The Seminar explored political questions including whether there are new projects for Europe, and with which political action could Europe renew its legitimacy. New political and media actors and practices are emerging, offering opportunities for direct, unmediated engagement of the public, unbound by ethical or institutional safeguards. How can pluralism, freedom of expression, and fair and evidence-based public debate be safeguarded in these new conditions?
Further, it focused on some, few major areas of EU integration, trying to identify the problems that have arisen, the links that need to be covered and the possible response that the EU and the member states will have to provide. The role and position of Greece in these developments has also been explored, particularly the structural changes needed.
The Seminar functioned in the context of a number of thematic panels. Speakers included academia and policy-makers. Participants came from the national and local authorities, civil society, academia and media. The thematic panels answered the following questions:
One Europe – Why? – How do we need to redefine the European project?
After sixty years, is the era of European integration drawing to a close?
How can Europe regain its legitimacy and ability to act?
- Common Foreign and Security Policy
- From a monetary to an economic Union
- A single European space of Freedom, Security and Justice: Balancing solidarity and responsibility
- What is the future of the European project?