German Pre-Presidency Conference “Shaping the Future of Europe”

On 25 and 26 June 2020, the German Pre-Presi­dency Conference (PPC) and the associated Annual Meeting of the IEP Academic Advisory Board of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) took place for the first time in an innov­ative virtual edition and not in Berlin as origi­nally planned.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the IEP and the Trans European Policy Studies Associ­ation (TEPSA) moved the conference into the virtual space. Under the title “Shaping the Future of Europe”, academics, political and civil society repre­sen­ta­tives discussed key issues with regard to the current German EU Council Presi­dency in nine panel and round­table discus­sions. In order to be able to discuss the agenda of the Council Presi­dency and its prior­ities with experts from other European countries and to achieve a wider outreach, the conference took place via the video conference tool Zoom. Although the German Council Presi­dency needs to focus on the COVID-19 crisis in line with its motto “Together for Europe’s Recovery”, this is by no means the only challenge for the presidency’s term. The focus will also be on climate protection, digiti­sation, strength­ening social cohesion and the rule of law, the contin­u­ation of negoti­a­tions on the multi­annual financial framework (MFF), the EU’s future relations with the UK as well as the EU’s role in the world. Accord­ingly, the discussion topics of the virtual PPC ranged from the EU’s differ­en­tiated future after Brexit all the way to possible reform proposals in times of crisis management. During the conference, the “TEPSA Recom­men­da­tions” for the German EU Council Presi­dency and “youth ideas” from the #EngagEUr­Council project provided an important framework for the numerous discus­sions.

Although a virtual conference hampers the networking component, this year’s conference enabled the partic­i­pation of 250 people from Germany, the EU as well as non-EU countries such as Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. The shift of the debates to the virtual space was partic­u­larly well received by young partic­i­pants. An innovation of the PPC 2020 was the explicit involvement of young students from the #EngagEUr­Council project and the related “Youth Ideas Panel”, which opened the first day of the conference.

Video messages from Prof. Dr. Jaap de Zwaan, Secretary General of TEPSA, and Prof. Dr. Frank Schim­melfennig, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of the IEP, as well as words of welcome by Dr. Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank and President of the IEP opened the conference. After a keynote speech by Axel Dittmann, Director for Insti­tu­tional Affairs of the EU, Brexit, and EU Coordi­nation and for the EU2020 Presi­dency at the Federal Foreign Office, four #EngagEUr­Council repre­sen­ta­tives presented their youth ideas for the Council Presi­dency on asylum and migration, the EU foreign policy, the European climate policy and the future of Europe. These ideas were then directly discussed with Axel Dittmann and the wider online audience within the framework of a moderated debate led by Dr. Funda Tekin, Director at IEP. In the afternoon of the first day, a further panel and three parallel round­tables offered experts from academia and politics the oppor­tunity for exchange and discussion. The focus was on the EU’s differ­en­tiated future after Brexit, migration and asylum policy, the EU’s enlargement and neigh­bourhood policy as well as the European Green Deal.

After an insightful and stimu­lating first day, the second day began with a video message from Prof. Dr. Johannes Pollak, Chairman of the IEP Board, which rang in the panel on “Must the EU learn to ʿspeak the language of powerʾ?”. The panel was followed, as on the previous day, by three parallel round­tables on insti­tu­tional reforms in times of crisis management, social cohesion and social security in Europe as well as a closed “Youth Ideas Round­table” engaging students from the University of Passau, the University of Magdeburg — OVGU and the repre­sen­ta­tives from #EngagEUr­Council.

In these times of crisis, Europe must stand up for its values while striving for unity, cohesion and justice.  The Institut für Europäische Politik would like to thank all partic­i­pants and guests as well as the German Federal Foreign Office, the Stiftung Mercator, TEPSA and the European Commission for supporting this exciting and productive conference.

Please click on the link below to learn more about the key messages of the conference.

For more infor­mation, you can also visit the event’s website until the end of the year (31 December 2020)