The so called ‘democratic deficit’ across the European Union is much discussed and remains in focus despite reforms to improve the status and powers of the European Parliament in relation to the other two pillars of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. A further set of suggested reforms would be to create a synchronised political day of Europe-wide voting. Applications are invited for a handful of mobility grants to be supported by the Europaeum and by the Graduate Institute in Geneva, to take part in an exploratory workshop on September 24th-26th in Geneva, focussing on the development of a ‘wholly European agenda’. The event is organised in partnership with the European University Institute and the Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute. The three-day workshop will explore the potential impact on the European ideological landscape; the impact of the rise of populist movements; and new ways of democratic engagement. Europaeum graduates working in relevant fields are invited to apply in the usual fashion with a CV, at least on reference and a motivation letter, to attend three days of talks, panels, and debates. Students will need to find their own travel, but all other costs will be covered. Please see the poster here and the programme here.
Universities have come under increasing pressures in recent times from many directions. Together they can be seen as challenging one of the standard principles of university academic life – namely academic freedom. This will form the central theme of the international conference to be linked to our 25th anniversary weekend. Academic Freedom: New Times, New Challenges, will involve a number of keynote speakers who will discuss the growing range of pressures that universities today increasingly face. Universities in Turkey, in Poland and indeed in Hungary are probably in the front rank facing government pressures. Universities are also having to confront the new student-led pressure to create ‘safe spaces’ without extremist speakers. Cuts in public expenditure linked to increasing demands for vocational and other ‘priority’ forms of education form yet another threat to University autonomy. Finally, the search for new contracts from business and industry, can also lead university to adjust their research priorities and goals. Participants and speakers will include rectors and deputy rectors from all 12 Europaeum partners as well as 50 select Europaeum alumni. A keynote talk will take place on the evening of Friday, September 29th, with further sessions and discussions to continue in the Nissan Theatre at St Antony’s College, Oxford, on the Saturday. The anniversary weekend will also include meetings of a newly set up Executive Committee, chaired by Dr Andrew Graham, the annual Europaeum Academic Council, also chaired by Dr Graham, and Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr Pierre Keller, followed by the 25th anniversary dinner in Balliol College, Oxford, hosted by Lord Patten.
The Europaeum is reviving its research workshop programme with an event to be hosted in Oxford in November exploring how effective current policy initiatives are at tackling gender inequalities. Specialist researchers from academe, public bodies such as Oxfam, and from think tanks, will meet to look at current thinking – taking as a starting point recommendations outlined in recent World Bank and IMF reports – and to set up a new Europaeum Research Project Group. The workshop is being led by Professor Devaki Jain from Delhi, Professor Anthony Heath of Nuffield College, Oxford, and Dr Paul Flather of Mansfield College, and is supported by a special Ford Foundation India grant. The event will be hosted on November, 3rd-4th, and as usual, the group is by invitation only. However, interested Europaeum academics are encouraged to contact the office. More details will follow.
Our next colloquium – the 15th in our series – will explore differing forms of Classical reception in modern culture, literature, music, language and art – with a particular focus on the 20th and 21st centuries. Papers could explore how ancient atomism influenced Marxism, or how classical imagery can be found in Fascist and Nazi propaganda, or the use of classical paradigms in Liberal democracies, or, generally, how classical culture has so shaped Europe’s complex identities. Tacitus’s most famous quote: “Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant (“They make a desert and call it peace”) is interesting in how its meaning has shifted from topography to become a well-known pacifist slogan from Vietnam to the Iraqi wars. The event will be co-hosted with the Classics Faculty at Bologna University, on November 23rd-25th in Bologna and Ravenna, and the senior academic director will be Professor Francesco Citti, professor of classics there. Applications are invited from Europaeum graduates – who are encouraged to suggest possible short papers, but this is not compulsory for participation. Please see the poster here, a short overview on our Classics Colloquii series here, and a compilation of participants reports from past Classics events here.
More than 35 graduates from all over Europe and beyond participated in our lively annual Europaeum Summer School held early in July in the historic Escorial Palace area near Madrid, focussing on the apparent crisis in democracy, particularly the rise of new populism, from the Left as well as the Right. Discussions covered the collapse of traditional political parties, broken leadership tropes, protest voting, the rise of the outsider, demagogues, independents, opprobrium against establishment elites, and the anti-politics against politicians and systems. Please see the final programme here and the full list of participants here. Among highlights were keynote talks from Professors Eva Anduiza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Anthony Arblaster (Sheffield/Oxford), Manuel Muñiz (IE University), Enrique Baron Crespo (former President of the European Parliament), David Ellwood (Bologna/SAIS); a public debate involving all participants, role playing, and working group reports. Please see here summary biographies of keynote speakers, and see abstracts of papers presented by graduates here. Feedback is very positive, and the Europaeum event is already deemed one of the highlights of the whole Escorial summer programme.
People from all over Europe gathered in one of the most extreme points of the continent to discuss the Western tradition of liberty under law. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Trump’s election, there was a general sense of the need not to take for granted the liberal foundations of our institutions and everyday political preferences.
I enjoyed that the Forum’s meals represented an occasion for organising memorial lectures in honour of key-figures in the history of liberal political thought and leadership. From Winston Churchill, to George Washington, and Konrad Adenauer, these figures remind us of the mutually reinforcing British, American, and European continental traditions, each offering a unique perspective contributing to what we imagine as our heritage of liberal principles.
I was one of the participants at the Europaeum special debate. This year’s motion was: “Does the New Wave of Populism Threaten the Balance of Our Democracies?” My colleagues and I defended the idea that populism should not be seen in antithesis to democracy. Rather, it should be understood as a legitimate expression of grievances and preferences which have been stigmatized in the liberal marketplace of ideas on which much public discourse relies. The debate itself was very entertaining. While the forum mainly featured experts’ interventions, here students found the opportunity to express their thoughts in a structured yet informal atmosphere. Most importantly, it represented a moment of reflection. Students’ interventions siding with this idea pushed us to analyse current dynamics outside our intellectual comfort zone. The liberal ideals we hold onto should not be considered as a natural state of affairs. The Estoril Forum is one of the platforms on which such collective effort towards self-criticism takes place.
The final gala dinner was an explosion of freedom of the mind and of the body at the sound of swing music. People from all generations found the perfect way of closing three intense days where ideas and people saw no boundaries for further discovery.
I am particularly thankful to the Europaeum network for facilitating my participation at the 2017 Estoril Political Forum. This kind of occasions is a good reminder of the need to cultivate efforts and pull resources to enable young people to experience such international milieux and not just theorise about them. On the edge of the Atlantic, I believe we all got a feeling of the many shores of the map and of the mind which we ought to further explore.
Kyiv, 30 August 2017
This year’s Europaeum Policy Seminar Policy-making inside Europe was the tenth in our series of annual special three-day programmes of talks, discussions, interviews and visits, involving those at the sharp end of policy and decision-making in Brussels and focussing on issues of current concern. Some 16 doctoral students and graduates from Europaeum member universities, plus another 15 students from the Institute of Political Studies, Catholic University of Portugal Lisbon, co-host of the seminar. Sessions were held at the European Parliament and the Portuguese Permanent Representation to the European Union, and at the centre for Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), who hosted the graduates for a first round of discussion. The graduates particularly enjoyed discussion on EU27 responses to the Brexit Referendum, on EU-US relations under Trumpism and on EU-Russia relationships after Crimea and the war on the Donbass, on European defence policy and the future of the NATO, and on the future of the EU’s financial system. Graduates particularly enjoyed discussions with Karel Lenoo, CEO and Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, with Pauline Massart, Deputy Director of Friends of Europe, and with Charles Tannock, Conservative UK MEP. Graduates from Oxford, Helsinki, Leiden, UPF Barcelona, Charles University Prague, Graduate Institute, Geneva, the Jagiellonian, Krakow, the Complutense, Madrid, and the IEP, Lisbon, all took part in this tenth in the series and perhaps the best of all. The event was subsidised by the the IEP, by MEP Paulo Rangel, our host at the EP, by FEPS, and by The Europaeum. Please see the programme here, see a list of expert speaker biographies here; for a list of graduate participants see here, and for the full summary evaluation report see here.
Once again the Europaeum will be facilitating our usual lively international debate led by Europaeum graduates as part of the next – 25th anniversary Estoril Forum on June 26th – 28th near Lisbon, organised by our colleagues at the Institute of Political Studies IEP at the Catholica University, before an audience of some 150 participants. The Europaeum is one of a number of leading partners working with the IEP, this year the conference focusing on the theme Defending the Rule of Law and the Western Tradition of Liberty. Keynote speakers will include Professor Jose Manuel Barroso, who led the European Union for eight years, is now a trustee for the Europaeum, and teaches at the Catholica; Jacques Rupnik from Sciences Po and the College de Bruges, who has collaborated with the Europaeum through our Vaclav Havel Dialogue Project.
Professor Charles Wyplosz, professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, will chair our next special Europaeum Lecture in our regular series. This will be given by Will Hutton, a noted economic commentator, currently Principal of Hertford College, Oxford University, and Chair of the Oxford Europaeum Group. Mr Hutton, who has regular influential columns in The Guardian and The Observer newspaper (where he was once Editor), will be discussing What Next – after Brexit ? In recent columns, Mr Hutton has written on the consequences for international trade that loom after the Brexit and Trump votes in the UK and US, and now he could add the Renzi referendum vote in Italy (see link here). He has also previously discussed the costs and benefits of globalization (see link here). After beginning his career as a stockbroker and investment analyst, he moved to the BBC as a producer and reporter. He has been Economics Editor of the BBC’s flagship Newsnight programme (1983-88), Editor-in-Chief of the European Business Channel (1988-90), and Economics Editor at the Guardian (1990-96), winning several media awards. He is currently Chair of the Big Innovation Centre Innovation Board.You can read Professor Wyplosz ‘s Europaeum Lecture on Fiscal Discipline in the Monetary Union here.
Aleksander Smolar, the well-known journalist and commentator, gave the keynote Europaeum Lecture in Prague on February 17th on the theme of Illiberal democracy and Post-Truth politics : counter-revolution in Poland today ? He was a well-known member of anti-communist opposition, founder and editor of the political quarterly Annex, and spokesman for a number of activist groups. After 1989, he served as an advisor to Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Hanna Suchocka. He is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and has many awards including the Sakharov Prize for lifetime achievement (2009). We are pleased to have Professor PÉTER BALÁZS, now professor at the Central European University in Budapest, and a former member of the European Commission and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary to give a Hungarian perspective too, alongside leading Czech commentator to give Czech perspectives. Full details on this poster here.