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) https://www.german-ppc-2020.eu/en/home.html