Topics

“Europe at the Crossroads: Leadership, Challenges and State of Play”

The conference will cover a broad range of issues. Submissions should be related to International Politics. Other topics on International Relations and Political Science will be also considered. The conference supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign. Its topics touch upon the 17 UN SDGs.

Main Topics

  • Democracy
  • Human Rights
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Economy

Thematic areas include:

Reflecting on the European political, economic and social state of play arises as a necessity, given that one of the most challenging decades in the years of the existence of the European Union is about to be completed soon. The global financial crisis started in 2008 made evident the structural weaknesses in Europe’s economy and intensified the division between the core and the periphery. At the same time, European societies were confronted with massive waves of refugee flows which were met with insufficient and often controversial political responses, frequently rooted in nationalist and protectionist ideas. Trump’s election and the Brexit turmoil became part of the plethora of challenges facing the European Union throughout this decade. Where does the European Union currently stand and how has the vision of an ever-growing Union changed/ been shaped through the developments of the past decade?

The completion of the final bailout program of Greece in August 2018 marked, for many people, the end of the Eurozone’s long financial crisis, raising questions about what comes next. Even though we can talk about prospects for economic improvement, economic pressures and socio-political changes created a large support basis for populist parties. Beyond the EU, more challenges arise through the current interplay between multilateralism and polarity in the international political scene. Examples of that interplay are the rapid way in which countries like Venezuela pose extreme challenges to the survival of their nationals, the future of the Korean Peninsula in light of the geopolitical developments between the US and North Korea and North and South Korea, the Yemen crisis, the longstanding civil war in Syria, the prolonged Ukrainian Crisis as well as President Erdogan’s governing policies. Discussions on such issues require a broader analysis that transcends the EU lens in an effort to shed light on the political and economic global challenges.

 

The long EU-US cooperation has now given its place to a change of focus on the extent to which Europe fits into US global priorities and vice versa. Trump’s “America First” approach has dominated the foreign policy agenda of this administration, triggering a clear change in   the EU –US relations. The isolationist policies of Trump arose as a big challenge to the European Global Strategy which is based on multilateral cooperation and largely different approaches to issues ranging from security in the Middle East to trade and environmental protection. In this context, questions regarding the importance, current state and prospects of the transatlantic relationship are more than relevant.

The completion of sixteen years since the establishment of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the transformation of the purely trade-dominated relations of the two parties into a growing cooperation in almost all fields sparks interest in the state of the EU-China relations. In light of the growing Sino-American competition and the political measures of the Trump administration that indicate an obvious disfavor towards multilateral arrangements, interest in the EU-China relations grows larger. To what extent do the developments of EU-US relations strengthen China’s position as an EU partner, how much of a partner and how much of a strategic competitor is China for the EU, and how does the lack of a unified approach of the EU members towards China impact the EU-China relations?

     

Current discussions about development are inevitably linked to the 2030 SDGs Agenda adopted in 2015. The 2030 Agenda’s tool is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that center on collectively addressing economic, social and environmental factors with the purpose of shaping more equal, inclusive and environmentally responsible societies. In 2016, the European Commission embraced the campaign for sustainable development announcing its plan to work towards the SDGs. This topic will focus on analyzing global progress towards the SDGs and the role of the EU in that effort to achieve inter alia zero poverty and hunger, inclusiveness and environmental protection.

Based on the developments that have taken place in the EU in terms of economics and social progress, Europe is reaching a point of transformation. The structural weaknesses that have been highlighted due to the crisis, both in the economic and social context, have created the need for a unanimous act of collective improvement. The EU2020 strategy sets out to achieve higher employment rates, productivity and social cohesion through collective action in the EU. The five measurable EU targets for 2020 that will steer the process require the cooperation of all the Member States in order to successfully reach national targets  create benefits and improvements across the EU.

    

The unprecedented refugee flows that the EU has experienced since 2015 have highlighted the imperative need for a balanced approach to migration. The European Union through funding, policy reform, and provision of aid has tried to regulate the influx of refugees and respond to illegal activities such as trafficking and smuggling. Taking in refugees became an issue which met considerable resistance from many EU countries, many of which have seen the rise in of extreme ideologies. At the same, with refugee flows still being present and with thousands of refugees living in inhumane conditions, many questions arise as to the prospects for integration of refugees in the host countries and what a potential solution that will respect human right and will be built on EU values could look like.

Fighting inequalities is at the center of the EU and global agenda for development with the goal of creating more inclusive societies. Seeing that social cohesion is a core and controversial component of the EU2020 agenda, it is worth considering what social cohesion means in an increasingly globalized world and diverse societies. Is social cohesion a helpful concept that we should be striving for or do we need to rethink how we talk about our societies and what goals we should be setting in order to create equitable, just and peaceful societies for all citizens? Is it even possible to have social cohesion in the increasingly globalized world and diverse societies? All these are challenging questions that can be answered in the context of the topic.