Reports 2016

Can the European project be saved?

6 July 2016

A majority of citizens in the United Kingdom (51.9%) voted for a withdrawal from the European Union (EU) throwing the future of the European project in jeopardy. Europe has already been weak and divided for a long time but it needs to react to this shock. Buffeted by a succession and accumulation of interlinked crises, the EU has – until now – demonstrated resilience, motivated by a strong collective survival instinct. Yet, at the same time, the EU and its members have shown scant capacity to tackle, let alone sustainably master, the ‘poly-crisis’, to which the “Brexit” crisis now adds another layer. Europe seems to be stuck: it has difficulties in moving forward, but is scared of going backwards. Overall, it is uncertain whether the EU can successfully handle its multiple crises. Can Europe manage the high level of fragmentation and distrust between and within member states? Is it able to deal with the phenomenon of populism and increased polarization of our societies, and can it collectively manage globalization, combine growth with social inclusion, whilst reconciling its apparent yearning for soft power with the harsh reality of the outside world?

This Visions for Europe addressed these and other pertinent questions related to the state of the Union and the future of the European integration project. Loukas Tsoukalis presented the main arguments elaborated in his new book, In Defence of Europe. Herman Van Rompuy responded with his perspective on the future of the European project before the debate was opened up to the audience by moderator, Janis A. Emmanouilidis.

Speakers included: Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Director of Studies, European Policy Centre; Loukas Tsoukalis, Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens; President, Hellenic Foundation for Europe and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens; Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council; President, European Policy Centre