With the patronage of the European Commission
EU: A GLOBAL PLAYER
The second half of the nineteenth century saw the rise of an international network of relationships that drove the most important phenomenon of globalization experienced in human history. The Western countries, in particular the US and the EU, played an essential role in this scenario, exporting their model to the rest of the world.
In recent decades, the international landscape experienced a drastic transformation; the opening of China marked the arrival of a new powerful player on the international playground, resulting in troubling tensions between the Eagle and the Dragon. On the one hand, the European Union has lost some of its relevance with the entrance of this new powerful player, on the other however, it has become more advocate of its core values in delicate international policy areas such as environment and trade.
What is the position of the EU in the current geopolitical scenario? Can we still talk about the EU as a global player? How delicate are its ties with the other actors and what are the strategic implications of such relationships? Are the Member States positions aligned in international matters or do they pursue their individual interests thus undermining the power of the Union as a single bloc? Our aim is to discuss possible answers to these questions by analysing the most important multilateral agreements and treaties. Come join us and enrich our roundtable! We are really looking forward to meeting motivated and passionate students to discuss the present and future of the EU as a global player.
“Europe will be forged in crisis” said Jean Monnet in 1976; and at the outset of 2021, his words sound more profetic than ever before. The pandemic that has been raging now for more than a year has deeply scarred our economy, but it has also urged the EU to rethink its role, generating opportunities that were previously beyond imagination. It has awakened Europe from its slumber and jolted it into action.
The Recovery Fund is not only the biggest joint effort ever made to find a common solution to a shock that symmetrically hit all member states, but also a unified path towards a better future, with sustainability and digitalisation as its pillars. This vision is as revolutionary as the instruments devised to achieve it: never before has common EU debt been issued, or funds been tied to policy objectives with such commitment.
But the more Europe innovates its own architecture, the more questions arise. And, for the most part, they still remain unanswered. How should the Fund work? Is common debt here to stay? Will we have the resources necessary to repay it?
In our table, we will address these highly debated issues, touching upon the features of these new fiscal instruments, their benefits and downsides. Some worry that the exceptionality of these innovations might become the new normal. Where is the limit?
RESEARCH & HEALTH
As of February 21st, no EU country was among the top-15 in terms of vaccination doses administered, and we have observed shortages in their supply in the past month. In this context, a truly European vaccine, independent of the desires of foreign companies, might have proven useful. It might be worth asking then, why don’t we have one? And what is the state of European research?
We kick-off the debate discussing the plans for a European vaccine, to then turn to the more general necessary improvements the EU should seek in innovation policy. In comparison with other advanced economies, the Union has lagged behind in terms of the number of registered patents’ over the past several years. Moreover, start-ups, widely assumed to be one of the main sources of innovation in the current economy, still have a hard time growing in European soil.
We then turn back to health matters, analyzing the procurement and distribution of vaccines and the coordination of prevention measures at EU level. Freedom of movement needs to be reconciled with national containment measures. If there is no coordination in the pandemic risk assessment of different regions, contradictory outcomes may arise. Should the criteria for quarantines be unified? And finally, are we going towards the creation of a EU sanitary passport?
Twenty-four does not sound like a lot, but we bet you don’t know anyone who speaks 24 languages. And while multilingualism is surely an asset of the Union, it also constitutes a challenge, and it has some costs. 24 official languages mean 552 possible language combinations during an interaction, and the Parliament alone employs about 270 interpreters and 600 translators to overcome language barriers.
Employing an official EU language could represent a possible solution, but not necessarily a simple one. Which language should be chosen? English? Or Esperanto, maybe? How can we preserve and respect national identities if we don’t treat their languages equally? And abstaining from a choice is nonetheless problematic, since despite growing numbers, bilingual people are still a minority in Europe.
Say after you sign up for our event, you want to read more on multilingualism. You’ll have a hard time finding an official EU media source - they do exist, but are often difficult to access and navigate. Should we even have a European Media Company, or are we better off with local news communicating everything Europe? And if we do have a transnational media outlet - what language should we even choose for it?
These are just some of the questions we will be asking ourselves at the Speaking European Table. There will be discussions about concrete policies, rants about Esperanto and, hopefully, plenty of laughter (the universal language).