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3rd Konrad Adenauer Lecture and Dialogue Program with Elmar Brook (MEP ret’d)

by Katja Theodorakis

‘Quo Vadis Europe? – Questions of Identity, Sovereignty, Responsibility’

The European Parliament’s most long-standing member Elmar Brok celebrated the intellectual legacy of Germany’s first Chancellor and his vision for a united Europe as he delivered the 3rd annual Konrad-Adenauer Lecture. Mr Brok is widely credited for his significant contributions to EU foreign policy (Head of European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs for 13 years) and constitutional matters. Following his retirement from Parliament in June this year, Mr Brok was appointed Special Adviser to the outgoing EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on relations with Ukraine.

Mr Brok’s tour-de-force lecture delved into questions of strategic sovereignty, external and internal socio-political and economic cohesion, as well as capability to preserve, and even enhance multilateralism. Since its inception, the EU has been a resounding success story. The European unity project has created an enduring foundation for prosperity and above all, democratic peace. However, for the past decade, Europe has faced significant challenges to its geopolitical, social and economic foundations. This has led analysts and policy-makers to argue that Europe is indeed 'at a cross-roads’, prompting questions about Europe's future trajectory and its capacity to continue to act coherently, autonomously and in accordance with its founding principles. The European Commission President-Elect Ursula von der Leyen recently signalled the vision of "a stronger Europe in the World". With Brexit looming, this lecture reflected on where Europe is headed and how it is placed to deliver on the President Elect’s vision. ‘No more war, no more dictatorships - those founding goals, Mr Brok reminded the audience, are still deeply relevant and in fact crucial in a changing world order.

Titled ‘Quo Vadis Europe? Questions of Identity, Sovereignty and Responsibility’, Mr Brok concluded with reflecting on the driving values behind the EU and its enduring relevance in a changing world - not just economically but more so politically.

Following Mr Brok’s lecture, Mr David Ritchie AO, former Australian ambassador to Germany and Distinguished Research Fellow at the ANU Centre for European Studies built on Mr Brok’s confident outlook that the EU would go forward and thrive despite current obstacles. Mr Ritchie also highlighted the role of the EU as a fundamental building block - not only for economic prosperity but especially for global security: echoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s admonition for ‘peace, freedom and prosperity’, he concluded that the world needed these as urgently as ever – and in this particular order.

The Konrad Adenauer Lecture Series is dedicated to enhancing understanding of Europe and Germany in Australia and the wider region. The initiative is the culmination of a longstanding partnership between the ANU Centre for European Studies. Distinguished keynote speaker for the 2019 lecture was Elmar Brok, Member of the European Parliament from 1980-2019.

The lecture was followed by a dialogue program in Canberra and Sydney where Mr Brok was able to exchange perspectives on current security challenges as well as  political and economic prospects with political leaders, senior government representatives and members of the European business community.


Katja Theodorakis