In the past weeks Vassilios Skouris, George Papandreou, Enrique Barón Crespo and Javier Solana have joined the EUI community to share their view on current European and global challenges.
Past weeks have been extraordinarily intense here at the STG. Various handshakes took place as the whole team ran around the EUI premises to set everything ready to welcome some of the most prominent leaders who have shaped the last decades of European integration.
The EU as a unique achievement
On 25 September, Vassilios Skouris, greeted by Prof. Maduro as ‘one of the most famous justices and longest serving President of the European Court of Justice’, engaged in a lively discussion with EUI researchers from all Departments. Answering their questions, he covered a variety of topics – spanning from the role of the CoJ in the EU integration process, the Court’s ‘activism’, human rights protection and austerity, always remarking that he considers himself ‘a convinced European’. ‘If you expect to hear a negative point of view – he said – it will not come from me’. While President Skouris recognised the many challenges ahead, he reminded the audience that ‘The EU is a unique achievement. We must safeguard it’.
The whole interview was live-streamed and is available on the EUI’s Youtube Channel.
The EU should be a humanising force in globalisation
Early in October, George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece, was welcomed by an extremely attentive audience for his interview focusing on Europe after the crisis. Mr. Papandreou made a convincing case for a supportive European Union: taking into account the rise of populism in both Europe and the United States, he warned that ‘if the EU does not address the issue of social inequalities, it will prepare the field for the rise of demagogues’, adding that he regards them as ‘the new crisis: they have exploited the financial crisis and the migration phenomenon to their needs’. During his final remarks, he argued several times that ‘Europe must become a humanising force in globalisation’.
Brexit? Hard or soft, it will be painful
On 23 October, we welcomed Enrique Barón Crespo, former President of the European Parliament. Interviewed by EUI researchers, President Barón Crespo reflected on his experience as President of the EU Parliament during the historic moment of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Praising the historical role of the European Union in ‘finally overcoming centuries of war in the continent’, he voiced great criticism towards Brexit, claiming it is ‘cutting into the flesh and bones of our society’.
The whole interview was live-streamed and is available here.
Europe must acquire strategic autonomy
President Barón Crespo's scepticism towards Brexit was shared by Dr. Javier Solana, former – and first – EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. With his vast experience in Spanish and European politics, Dr. Solana drew a large crowd for his keynote speech on the State of Security in Europe. On 25 October, Dr. Solana addressed the most pressing issues that the EU needs to tackle in the short term: ‘Europe must have a strategic autonomy,’ he said, taking stock in a few minutes of the history of the European Defense and Foreign Policy and the current challenges it has to face today. The war in Syria, the relationship with Russia, the threatening presence of Trump and the unsolved question of the Western Balkans emerged as the most relevant tests for a Europe that needs to take a step forward and strengthen multilateralism to defend the global good.