Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action is IWM’s partnership initiative with the ERSTE Foundation aiming to understand and address challenges posed to Europe and the European Union by the eroding of democracy, rule of law deficiencies, migratory pressures or climate change. During this academic year 2021/22 the fourth cohort of Europe’s Futures Fellows takes stage with eight prominent experts who will outline their work in four “colloquia” through September 2021.
In the opening event on Wednesday, 8 September 2021, we investigated the nexus of issues around the European Union’s balancing act between a peace project it has been and a “strategically autonomous” superpower it seemingly wants to become. All against the backdrop of populists, nationalists and radicals of all sorts competing ever more efficiently for the electorate lost by mainstream pro-European parties.
Can new liberal political forces or grassroots citizen movements win back ground in the age of distorted narratives? Is the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe inclusive or conducive enough to truly affect European Union’s democratic vitality? What will be the responses CEE to the idea of Europe as a superpower? And while Europeans ponder choices, can the EU’s periphery withstand the rising malign foreign – and domestic - influences?
For this discussion, two foremost experts on democratization, civic action and (politics of) EU affairs from two pivotal CEE-countries, Romania and Poland joined us:
Oana Popescu-Zamfir runs one of the most prominent think tanks in Romania, the “Global Focus Center”, after stints at senior foreign policy positions in the Romanian Government and the Aspen (Institute) Romania. Oana’s work covers geopolitics and security in the EU/NATO neighbourhood, EU affairs, democratisation and human rights, asymmetric threats, shifting models of governance. Oana directs the Democratic Resilience Index project, the first quantitative instrument specifically designed to measure democratic resilience in Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
Wojciech Przybylski is the editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of Res Publica Foundation, Warsaw, and the former editor-in-chief of Eurozine. Wojciech leads ‘New Europe 100’, a project spurring innovation across business, media, NGO and public administration sectors that is run jointly by Res Publica, Financial Times and Google. Wojciech’s book ‘Understanding Central Europe’ (co-ed. with Marcin Moskalewicz) has been published in 2017 by Routledge.
Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Acting Rector, Permanent Fellow and head of Europe’s Futures program, steered the discussion.