The Prospects of the EU and the Central and Eastern European Region in Light of the Challenges of the 21st Century

Partner: Antall József Knowledge Centre
Event date: May 12, 2015 - Mar 25, 2015
Deadline for registering: May 10, 2015
Venue: Bruxelles (Belgium), Hungary
Category: Conference

Concept of the conference

As the third event of the Variations on Europe conference series, the two panels of the conference will focus on areas where the EU could pioneer in the future, and where improvements are in its best interest: foreign and security policy, energy policy, as well as sustainable development. The main purpose of the conference is to provide experts and policy-makers from European think tanks, international organisations and European institutions with the opportunity to analyse the effectiveness of current regulations, discuss the best strategies for the future, and present a European, a global and an East-Central European perspective on the above mentioned areas.

Panel I. Protecting European Fundamentals – The Limitations and Possibilities of the Common Foreign and Security Policy

The Common Foreign and Security Policy has undergone an institutional and legal reform since the Lisbon Treaty of 2009. Its main objective was to enhance the power of the EU through more unified actions taken internationally. Although the Lisbon Treaty established the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the decision-making process left the principle of unanimity untouched. Not only do the differing national interests of the Member States complicate the formation of a common position, but they also hinder the application of the Union’s foreign and security policy tools, especially when continuous enlargement is taken into account. These common tools would ensure the protection and enforcement of human dignity, freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights in the EU’s broader region, which is now partly formalised in the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Nevertheless, the recent growth of the armed conflicts in our region and the growing danger of terrorism within Europe questions the role and responsibility of the European Union in standing up for the protection of these values, as well as casts doubts on the realisation of the foreign and security policy objectives of the EU. The European Union is hardly regarded as a strong and effective global actor by the international public. The leverage of the EU is evaporating in a global context, where the national aspirations of China, India, or Russia would require a unified, independent, and reliable Europe to maintain its power and legitimacy in the eyes of its partners.

As such, the experts of this panel will discuss the questions of whether the EU could become a global actor without a transfer of sovereignty on the part of the Member States, as well as whether the EU has a prospect to adopt a common foreign and security policy on the supranational level. Further questions the panel wishes to answer include: can the Member States resolve the conflict of interests rooting from their different views of the common foreign and security policy? Does the European Union have meaningful tools to protect its fundamental values abroad? Does the European Union have the means to counter terrorism within its own boundaries?


Panel II. Sustainable Energy for Europe – The European Energy Union as the key to a Sustainable and Competitive Europe?

Protecting the Earth’s climate and ensuring a long-term supply of energy is an interconnected policy area, which nonetheless tends to produce opposing efforts these days. For a long time, The European Union has been a forerunner in producing legislation promoting sustainable development, the most recent evidence of which is the establishment of the 2030 framework for climate and energy policies. The goal of the framework is to establish a highly energy-efficient and low-carbon emission economy. Meeting the goals of this package might have a substantial effect on not just the economic development of Europe, but also its security policy as well.

This is especially true in the light of the numerous challenges in multiple areas that the EU has had to face in of recent years. The economic difficulties and the slow recovery process after the global financial crisis are not the only factors weakening the economic position of Europe globally but the unfavourable energy prices and the general concern regarding the security of energy supply also have an effect on it. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict provided a new impetus for debates about energy dependency, raised the demand for a more integrated energy market between Member States, and eventually led to the idea of the European Energy Union. Since EU policy stipulates that economic growth and increased competitiveness on a global level can only be achieved if an adequate level of energy supply is ensured for both present and future generations, the panel primarily aims to present the interconnectedness and the contradictions of energy security and sustainable growth, as well as the different interpretations of the EU’s 2030 framework for climate and energy policies.

Therefore, the speakers representing different views will discuss the strategies that could make the internal energy market integration achievable and sustainable, the major challenges Europe is to face during the process, as well as the question of whether the establishment of an energy union is a possible goal in a European Union that consists of states with fundamentally different economic and energy market attributes.

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Keywords: EU, Europe


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