Public Session 2

The EU: A Vote of No Confidence?

The EU continues to face multiple challenges that constitute threats to its very existence. Values and principles such as the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights that make up the DNA of the EU are increasingly coming under direct threat by rising populism and ‘Euroscepticism’. Many experts claim that the Brexit phenomenon may be an indication of further ruptures to come. Countries such as Poland, Hungary and Italy could open up new fissures within the EU as populist and nationalist sentiments continue to rise. Similarly, economic woes and stagnating living standards in many European countries – such as Greece, Italy and Spain – are an indication that the coming generations will have a lower quality of life than that of their parents. Such a state of affairs has been a trigger for the rise of social movements, such as the “Yellow Vests” in France, which are a manifestation of the high levels of frustration with the political status-quo. In the long run, the continued growth of this anger holds the potential to destabilise the EU as a whole. Furthermore, the failure to form a coherent and common European identity and to adopt common foreign and security policies among member states has called the geopolitical relevance of the bloc into question.

Discussion Themes

This session intends to discuss the following:

• Does Brexit represent the beginning of the end for the EU? Will it have a domino effect on other EU member states?

• Could Hungary, Poland and Italy open up new fissures within the EU?

• Does the growing dissatisfaction with wealth distribution in some European countries, as represented by social protest movements such as the “Yellow Vests” in France, constitute a threat to the EU’s future?

• Can the EU’s core values survive the rise of far-right nationalism in Europe?

• What steps can the EU take – if any – to make it more geopolitically and strategically central to international affairs?