6 - 8 JUNE 2016

Prague European Summit

EU in a Time of Crisis: Better Together?



Opening Plenary Session / Péter Balázs, Vladimír Bartovic, Kristalina Georgieva, Max Hofmann, Radko Hokovský, Petr Kratochvíl, Wolfgang Wessels, Lubomír Zaorálek

Words of welcome:

Vladimír Bartovic, Director, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

Radko Hokovský, Executive Director, European Values Think-Tank Petr

Kratochvíl, Director, Institute of International Relations Prague

Key-Note Address: Why Is It Better to Be Together?

Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic 

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commission Vice-President

Follow-up discussion: 

Péter Balázs, Professor, Central European University, former EU Commissioner and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary

Wolfgang Wessels, Professor and Jean-Monnet-Chair at the University of Cologne 

Moderator: Max Hofmann, European Correspondent, Brussels Bureau Chief, Deutsche Welle 


Breakout Session A: The Future of the Schengen Cooperation / Christian Bluth, Beata Jaczewska, Vessela Tcherneva

"Is Schengen dead?" may well represent one of the most important questions of 2016. The unraveling of the refugee crisis, which highlighted the unpreparedness of our external border protection system and the lack of workable emergency solutions for our internal borders, forces European leaders to consider new options about Schengen cooperation, especially as fences are erected at some member states' borders. Since Schengen underpins what are Europe's main strengths, the free circulation of goods and people, there is a clear need to find a workable future in order to preserve the fundamentals of what creates prosperity, but also of what holds Europe together. Will Europe accept reverting back to the old system once the numerous exceptions have reached their expiration? Will Europe create a system based on short-term considerations due to the ongoing refugee crisis, or take its time to build a system that offers workable contingencies? What are the economic repercussions of any new plans for border protection?


Breakout Session B: Fragmentation vs. Enhanced Cooperation / Steven Blockmans, Agata Gostynska - Jakubowska, Tom Nuttall, Ana Palacio

Multi-speed Europe, where respective Member States of the EU are integrating at a different pace has been a commonplace since the Maastricht Treaty. With debates about Brexit, Grexit and persisting ambiguity about the future of the Eurozone as well as the Schengen Area talks about fragmentation of the European Union are more intense than ever before. On the other hand, proposal for further integration in specific policy fields and initiatives for an enhanced cooperation are also coming up. Some are saying that an “ever closer union” is de facto dead, yet others are still promoting the original federalist ideal. Is fragmentation a negative phenomenon per se for the future of the EU? Can we find a narrative which would allow continuation of differentiated integration, yet kept the EU together? Or has the Rubicon been already crossed concerning disintegration of the Union?


Breakout Session C: Euroscepticism vs. Trust Building / Vladimír Bilčík, Thanos Dokos, Hans Kundnani, Christian Lequesne

A background paper will map the evolution of three forms of Euroscepticism and critically assess the ability of the EU to deal with them. The paper will argue that any stable political system should be able to channel issue-specific opposition (and even anti-establishment opposition) into a legitimate political competition over policy issues between political personalities. We will also turn our attention towards the noticeable upsurge in national referenda on European issues. They are sometimes hailed as expressions of democracy, yet they can be perceived as national vetoes (or instances of blackmail) which threaten the EU decision-making system, which still very much relies on the "culture of consensus". In a discussion will we focus on various forms of Euroscepticism: How serious a threat is it to the EU? and national referenda: Exercises in democracy or blackmailing?


Night Owl Session A: The U.S. Presidential Elections 2016 and Their Impact on Transatlantic Relations / Michal Baranowski, Vassilis Ntousas, Dalibor Roháč

Every four years, Europe asks itself what role it will play in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, and the answer rarely fails to disappoint: there is either too little Europe (what about us?) or too much of it (especially coming from Donald Trump). After eight years of an Obama presidency that would have largely overlooked Europe - for good reasons - had the crisis in Ukraine not unraveled, the prospect of transatlantic relations is shaken up by Donald Trump's run and his questioning of the fundamentals of our relationship. His criticism of NATO freeloading, which woke up resentment that was simmering at the surface in Congress, and avowed disdain for free trade agreements represent strategic differences that may be hard to mend. Therefore, will a Europe that is turning increasingly populist, much like the U.S., favor a Hillary Clinton victory? Would she represent a more predictable road for Europe? Or does Europe need a wake-up call about its own ability to act on economic and strategic matters? And what can Europe learn from the populist wave that has taken over the U.S. during its primary campaigns?


Night Owl Session B: The Political Contagion of Brexit / Vladimír Bilčík, Christophe Hillion

A referendum on whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union is being held on Thursday, 23 June. No matter how the in-or-out vote ends up, the whole Brexit debate has made secession from the European Union a realistic option. We can already hear voices calling for a similar referendum in other Member States, old and new alike. Just few days to the ballot, this session will explore how the Brexit debate influenced discourses on EU membership in various Member States and what development we can expect in the case of the leave or remain victory. What strategies are radical Eurosceptic parties likely to adopt and what should be the answer of pro-European mainstream leaders?


Night Owl Session C: Russia: A Stumbling Block of the EU’s Future Unity? / Alexander Duleba, Mart Laanemae, Nicu Popescu, Brian Whitmore

The EU´s relations to Russia have long been the single most visible dividing issue in EU external affairs. The Russian-Ukrainian war has changed this in most unexpected ways: First, the EU member states have been capable of uniting in regard to this issue and imposing several waves of sanctions on Russia. Second, the once rather vague perception of the threat coming from Russia has been transformed into a very concrete military, political and even normative challenge to the established European order. If the EU wants to demonstrate its continuing inner cohesion as well as its renewed external vigour, there could hardly be a better litmus test for this than the relations to Russia. Is a long-term cold peace with Russia what awaits the EU in the years to come? Has the neighbourhood become a cordon sanitaire, a neutralized zone of occasional conflict between the EU and Russia? Are there ways through which the EU could contribute to a peaceful solution of the Ukrainian crisis? What is to be expected from the post-2018 Russia with its old/new president?


Workshop A - Identity: European Togetherness, Values and Nationalism / Wojciech Przybylski, Dalibor Roháč

A shared political identity – a “national we” (Roger Scruton) or “a sense of moral like-mindedness” (Frank Knight) – is commonly seen as a necessary feature of a democratically governed society. Yet, as shown by the experience of multiethnic and multilingual democracies, and by the emergence of a political nationhood in the United States, such identity is fluid. Not even Europe’s political nations are immutable structures and have been shaped by myriad historical accidents, wars, and political reforms. Does Europe need a common political identity? What are the benefits from joint political decision-making, as opposed to ad hoc cooperation between sovereign nation states? Does a shared political identity exist in Europe? If so, what are its elements? A chicken & egg question: What comes first, joint political institutions (such as the EU) or a shared political identity? The Eurozone and refugee crisis seem to have fostered nationalism and xenophobic populism across Europe. How well has the existing form of European integration served us in building a shared political identity on the European continent? How have individual political leaders? What needs to change in order for the common European decision-making not lead to populist backlashes such as the ones that now threatening to undo the European project altogether?


Workshop B - Security: Can Anyone Face the Current Threats Alone? And Can We Face Them Together? / Steven Blockmans, Elisabeth Braw

Has the EU's response to combatting terrorism been sufficient in the wake of the Paris and Brussels bombings? Should the EU create its own Central Intelligence Agency? What is the difference between the EU's mutual assistance clause of Article 42.7 TEU and NATO's Article 5? Germany is planning towards the creation of a 'European Defence Union'. Is this feasible and, if so, what would be its contours and mandate? Would the V4 countries buy into the plans? Can the EU provide a sense of security to its citizens?


Workshop C - Prosperity: How to Translate Economic Growth into Social Cohesion? / Ernst Stetter

The freedom of movement and the right to equal treatment within the European Union - what does the British “Emergency Break” and the upcoming Mobility Package mean about it? The interpretations of rights - is the Basic Income idea an emancipatory idea that all citizens would benefit from?  The translation of social justice into practice - how to argue and act for triangle of: progressive taxation system, increase of the taxes on the top 1% and fighting tax avoidance? The promise of a prosperous future for all - how to make Youth Guarantee work on the European, national and local levels? The horizon of social standards - how can the EU fight against growing precariousness within the labour market, while pursuing strategies of change towards Digital, Care and Green Economy?


PES Oxford Debate A: Greece Should Stay in the Eurozone / Dimitri Sotiropoulos, Tim Worstall

While the potential Greek exit from the Eurozone no longer seems to be an acute possibility, we believe it is useful to revive the arguments in the related debate. The debate about a possible Grexit from the euro touched upon the economic, but also the normative and legal foundations of the economic and monetary union. In addition to the Greek case, we would like to discuss a more general set of questions. From the point of view of individual member states, under which conditions would a state's exit from the Eurozone be justifiable? From the point of view of the Eurozone as a whole, what is more threatening, a default within the Eurozone or a(n) (forced) exit from the Eurozone?


PES Oxford Debate B: EU Member States Should Transfer Their Sovereignty to the European Army / Henry Foy, Martin Michelot

With European security having taken a front seat in discussions due to the pressures of the refugee crisis, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, and a resurgent Russia, the idea of a European Army has resurfaced and created debates among experts and officials. This proposal, put forward by German Minister of Defense von der Leyen and supported by the President of the European Commission, has been welcomed coldly in European capitals. Historical reluctance to let go of an important component of national sovereignty is at play, while also thinking that such a proposal may constitute a way for Germany to escape taking on a greater national role in European security affairs. There are also concerns that the role of NATO, which remains primordial for countries in Central and Eastern Europe, may be diminished in the process, and the nature of security guarantees changed. However, the necessity of more efficient spending, and of a more united European approach – underpinned by strong regional grouping that already exist – constitute strong enough arguments to consider. If one of the stumbling blocks to the construction of European defense, the United Kingdom, is removed, may we witness a new dynamism to this debate?


PES Oxford Debate C: TTIP is Contrary to EU Interests / Ivan Hodač, Marcin Korolec

This panel will discuss whether the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, known as the TTIP agreement between the EU and the US is in the best interest of the EU. Among the benefits of such trade deal is the abolishment of the remaining tariff barriers in the bilateral trade, more importantly, curtail of the non-tariff barriers (unnecessary procedures, certifications requirements, access to the public procurement etc.), thus contributing to the economy growth and jobs creation in the EU, finally forming the world biggest trading block capable to set and further promote common standards in the global economic system. The shortcomings of such trade and investment agreement can be the risk of food quality requirements degradation in the EU resulting from a compromise where American rather loose and European stricter regulations need to converge. Furthermore, the contentious mechanism of the private dispute settlement between investors and state (ISDS) is, according to its opponents, to limit the sovereign power of the state to enforce its regulations by allowing the investors to sue the state easily for harming their interests and eventually hamper the capacity of the state to freely manage its own economy. 


Reception & Annual “Vision for Europe” Award / Lubomír Zaorálek

Vision for Europe is the annually bestowed award for distinguished personalities who have, in the course of their lives, devoted substantial energies to the establishment and development of European ideals such as strengthening peaceful cooperation among European nations, developing a fair institutional arrangement of European integration, making European integration more accessible to European publics, and overcoming prejudices and misconceptions related to the integration process. The awarding ceremony is part of the annual Prague European Summit, and it is accompanied by the European Vision speech, which is delivered by the awardee. 

Speakers List

International Programme Board

The International Programme Board is the key advisory body of the Prague European Summit. It meets on a regular basis, at least once a year. The International Programme Board is comprised of leading international thinkers who care about the future of European integration. The Board is essential in shaping the substantive part of the Prague European Summit, and its tasks include the formulation of programme priorities for the upcoming Summit in June 2016 as well as innovative suggestions regarding the Summit´s structure, its side-events and its output.



Photos Day 1

Photos Day 2



About PES:
The Prague European Summit is conceived as a platform for a regular high-level strategic debate on the future of the European Union. Its goal is to look for common answers to the key challenges that Europe is facing in the economic, social, foreign-policy and institutional fields.

As an initiative of the consortium of three prominent Czech think-tanks (the Institute of International Relations, European Values and EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy) carried out under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic, it will offer space for an informal dialogue among political representatives, high-ranking state officials, representatives of interest groups, businessmen, academicians and journalists.

By hosting this regular summit on the future of European integration in Prague, the organizers want to contribute to recasting the image of the Czech Republic as a member country which self-confidently yet constructively joins the strategic discussions on the course of the EU. The ambition of the Prague European Summit is to become analogous to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Munich Security Conference or GLOBSEC in Bratislava, and its main focus is on the strategic issues of European integration – a topic that has not been covered by any existing forum yet.

About conference
The conference is organized in the framework of the Prague European Summit, a new platform for strategic dialogue about common responses to new challenges the European Union needs to deal with in different areas. Following this year pilot conference, the first annual summit shall take place in June 2016.

The topic of the first year reflects the current state of the integration process. On one hand the economic crisis has been overcome, and in reaction to it the economic governance in the Eurozone and in the EU as a whole has been fundamentally transformed. On the other hand in the fields of foreign and security policy the EU faces the fundamental challenge of the destabilization of its neighbourhood, including the aggressive policy of Russia towards Ukraine and the aspirations of the so-called Islamic State in the southern and south-eastern neighbourhood. These changes in the strategic environment call, now much more than any time before, for effective work on the part of the EU institutions, which will, at the same time, need sufficient democratic legitimacy. The aim of this year’s conference is therefore to re-think both the inner institutional setting of the EU and the impact its decision-making mechanisms will have on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU.


European Values

EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

Institute of International Relations


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