Europe today is facing various vital threats to its freedom, safety, prosperity and global relevance. Within the EVN 2010 eight working groups will be set up to propose recommendations how to address the following threats:
- Disengagement and disinterest from citizens in democratic politics
Coordinator: Thomas Winzen (Germany)
- Demographic decline and its implication for the society
Coordinator: Igor Breitner (Hungary)
- Violent radicalisation and terrorism
Coordinator: Daniel Trautvetter (Germany)
- Declining competitiveness of Europe’s economy
Coordinator: Theo Vassilopoulos (Greece)
- Growing EU’s energy dependency from unreliable suppliers
Coordinator: Maximo Miccinilli (Italy)
- Climate change
Coordinator: Rafal Riedel (Poland)
- Armed conflicts in Europe’s greater neighbourhood
Coordinator: Sargis Ghazaryan (Italy / Armenia)
- Nuclear proliferation
Coordinator: Nuno Martins (Portugal)
Disengagement and disinterest from citizens in democratic politics
Working group on Democracy; Coordinator: Thomas Winzen (Germany)
“Once something of a bon mot, conjuring a series of broadly positive connotations [...] ‘politics’, has increasingly become a dirty word. Indeed, to attribute ‘political’ motives to an actor’s conduct is now invariably to question that actor’s honesty, integrity or capacity to deliver an outcome that reflects anything other than his or her material self-interest – often all three simultaneously.” (Colin Hay, Why We Hate Politics, Polity Press, 2007)
Democratic politics describes the process by which we take collective decisions regarding our reactions to challenges as pertinent as climate change, demographic shifts or threats to our physical security. Democratic politics is unique in that it builds upon the voluntary consent of its subjects. The idea that voluntarism rather than force and coercion must govern decision-making and enforcement resides at the heart of the way we organise our lives. Voluntary acceptance of collective choices is achieved because we consent to the legitimacy of the decision-making process both when its outcomes are favourable to us and when they are not.
Today, it is uncertain whether this general acceptance can be upheld. Many indicators of public support reveal alarming trends. Electoral turnout is on retreat in particular among the young; party membership declines; trust in political elites, if ever it was high, is far from improving; and increasing numbers believe that government is run for selective rather than collective interest. Simultaneously, citizens are not necessarily apathetic. Unconventional forms of political engagement are on the rise and the choice not to participate in formal politics is often a purposive act in itself. Yet, only the formal process of government allows every individual a say and enfranchises also the quiet and less resourceful.
At present, there is no alternative to the formal political process if we are to claim that collective choice relies, at least minimally, on the consent of all rather than the power of a few. We know that individuals still widely believe in the abstract ideal of democracy. The question we face is how to translate this belief into engagement in and support for the practice of democratic politics.
- Dalton, Russell J. (2004) Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Hay, Colin (2007) Why We Hate Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Demographic decline and its implication for the society
Working group on Demography; Coordinator: Igor Breitner (Hungary)
The EU’s population is declining in relative as well as absolute terms compared to the global developments which couples with an ever increasing average age. This trend has enormous implications to the macroeconomic indicators as well as to the more specific fields of the labour market, the social services such as health care and pension system, the overall competitiveness of Europe and of course it is putting a huge pressure on the state budgets. While some countries – such as Sweden – try to focus on social and family policy others are looking for ways to integrate immigrants in order to increase their population – and of course workforce. Yet, only a few countries in the western hemisphere were able to reverse this trend and increase the number of their inhabitants. In order to make policy recommendations, this working group will look at the best examples of how it is possible to increase the population without the effects of immigration and will also try to find creative and innovative solutions for this very current problem.
Violent radicalisation and terrorism
Working group on Radicalisation; Coordinator: Daniel Trautvetter (Germany)
The working group’s objective is to analyse and understand the threat of Islamist-terrorist groups and their strategies towards Europe. Particular focus will be given towards identifying the ideology behind terrorism, Jihadism, and its key role in violent radicalisation and terrorist recruitment. For Europe’s counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation efforts, the role of non-violent Islamist groups represents a thorny challenge that has led to much debate among officials and experts. The working group will also examine and reflect upon the different arguments of this debate.
- Rik Coolsaet (ed.) (2008) Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge in Europe. Ashgate.
- Walid Phares (2007) The War of Ideas – Jihadism against Democracy. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Lorenzo Vidino (2009) ‘Europe’s new security dilemma’, Washington Quarterly, October.
Declining competitiveness of Europe’s economy
Working group on Competitiveness; Coordinator: Theo Vassilopoulos (Greece)
In the context of the determinants of productivity and competitiveness, Europe has been experiencing an increased pressure, also keeping in mind that all world economies have been remarkably affected by the recession. In turn, consumption and production rates have been dramatically influenced, while other key factors such as cheaper labour force found elsewhere, energy issues and augmented environmental concerns lead Europe to re-assert its identity on the international scene. The scope of this working group is to identify and recommend specific policy issues in order to best address Europe’s competitiveness decline.
A series of matters will be discussed, such as:
- Generate and examine a concise statement of the problem as a way to help crystallize the issues
- What are the policy issues and what might fall into other areas such as best practices?
- Initiatives to stimulate economy and gearing-up to create a sustainable infrastructure
- Has recession blown the whole sustainability agenda off-course?
- Marrying traditional business skills while also thinking in innovative ways
- Business and Green initiatives with a strategic short-, medium- and long-term target, tangible and intangible benefits and how do they stack up against other priorities of today’s business environment
Europe, alone, is capable with its often called collective weight in dialogues to identify the new opportunities and drive its economy back to the competitiveness track. An already antagonistic field pushes European countries to adapt to the new technological and international environment.
1. DG COMP 2009 Annual Management Plan
3. Case Study: GE’s “Ecomagination” (download and study the last annual report and go through the http://ge.ecomagination.com/ to understand thoroughly how an international company responds to today’s grappling for what the right strategy around managing sustainability is)
- Story of stuff: www.storyofstuff.com/ (go through the site, but make sure you watch the suggested 20’ min video “story of stuff” – also found on youtube)
Growing EU’s energy dependency from unreliable suppliers
Working group on Energy; Coordinator: Maximo Miccinilli (Italy)
As one of the world’s largest importers of oil, gas and coal, the EU has become a major player on the international energy market. Such a global position is by no means comfortable. According to the European Commission’s mid-term forecast, if no policy action is taken, EU´s energy dependency will climb from 50% in 2000 to 70% in 2030.
The situation is even more serious when the North Sea oil and gas fields have already been exploited beyond their peak, leaving Europe dependent on non-EU countries for future supply. In fact, the largest reserves of oil and gas are situated in both politically and economically insecure regions such as Russia, Middle East and North Africa.
Furthermore, the external dimension of energy policy remains within the competence of the EU member states´ foreign ministries and thus creating multiple voices at EU level. Renewable energy sources will be boosted by the implementation of the new EU legislation but it is unlikely to go beyond 20% of the total EU energy share by 2020.
In short, energy policy is one of the biggest challenges for Brussels. Ensuring energy supply for its citizens, creating a common energy policy and dealing with unreliable external suppliers require a delicate and consistent political response from the bloc. A weak or mislead EU energy policy could only bring insecurity, political dependence and economic risks in the whole EU.
Working group on Climate; Coordinator: Rafal Riedel (Poland)
The climate change problematic means for the contemporary Europeans not only an environmental challenge reflecting the existential threats of ecological nature (which alone is enough). It constitutes also prerequisites for a possible change and new opportunity structures for the new economy (among others – the dilemma about the environment - a public good or market commodity?). This is going to affect both society and politics, and the way they are organized today. Europe (understood as EU, or wider: EEA) seems to be, or has ambitions to be, a trend-setter of global environmental policy.
This working group will face the problem of identifying the benefits and limits of EU engagement in ecological security ('return to the future' searching the way towards sustainable economy or 'race to the bottom'), the process of its supranationalisation and Europeanisation, looking for improvements of EU climate-energy policy within (and eventually outside of) its priorities: renewables, emissions, energy efficiency.
- Green Paper. A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy. Brussels, 8.3.2006, COM(2006) 105 final
- J. Rifkin (2002) The Hydrogen Economy. The Creation of the World-Wide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth. New York.
- O. Tahvonen, Energy Crises versus Climate Change: Is There a Lesson to be Learned? W: Governance, Equity and Global Markets. The Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics – Europe. (eds.) J. E. Stoglitz, P. A. Muet. Oxford 2001
- VrolijkC. (eds.) (2002) Climate Change and Power. Economic Instruments for European Electricity. London.
Armed conflicts in Europe’s greater neighbourhood
Working group on Conflicts; Coordinator: Sargis Ghazaryan (Italy / Armenia)
In the recent years, the EU has reached a significant degree of expertise and has acquired a wide range of competences when it comes to its external action and combination of civilian and military means for conflict prevention and crisis management. Still, the Union displays shortcomings when it has to deliver in the area of conflict resolution. The wider picture is set to change, however, with the entry into force of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. The purpose of this policy paper is to analyse the security environment in the EU’s greater neighbourhood, with a particular emphasis on armed conflict, and to assess the EU’s activity for conflict settlement. The analysis will follow the logic of the ESS and the ESS Review and will try to further the understanding of the EU capabilities and doctrine, both civilian and military, in preventing, countering and managing armed conflicts in its peripheral geographic areas. Notably, the geographic focus of the final document will concentrate on Caucasus – Central Asia – Afghanistan geopolitical axis.
- Bruno Coppieters, Michael Emerson, Michel Huysseune, Tamara Kovziridze, Gergana Noutcheva, Nathalie Tocci and Marius Vahl (2004), Europeanization and Conflict Resolution: Case Studies from the European Periphery, published in 2004 as a special issue of the Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe, 1/2004, also published as a book by Academia Press, Gent
- N.Tocci (2007), The EU and Conflict Resolution: Promoting Peace in the Backyard, Routledge, London
- Jan Zielonka Europe as a global actor: empire by example?, International Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 3 (2008)
Working group on Proliferation; Coordinator: Nuno Martins (Portugal)
Some rough States, such as Iran and North Korea, are defying the International Community with the development of their nuclear programs. These countries are menacing the international security, in general, and trying to gain the security control in their regions. The role of the policy paper is to identify what kind of nuclear menaces Europe is facing and categorize the best options to manage these menaces. The paper will only focus on military nuclear ambitions and will not discuss civil nuclear developments.