Event Reports

The European Union: Facing New Challenges

On May 23 and 24, international scientists discussed the role of the EU and Europe in the age of economic changes and new challenges with regard to foreign affairs. The Symposium was arranged by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Adenauer Division of the Ben-Gurion University in collaboration with The Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR).

Dr. Sharon Pardo, Director of the Adenauer Division for the Study of European Politics of Society, opened the event at the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Jerusalem. Regarding the first item on the agenda, the participants dealt with inner-European obstacles like the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and economic development. Prof. Amy Verdun, Victoria University, Canada, and Prof. Kurt Huebner, Director of The Institute for European Studies at the British Columbia University focused in their lectures on financial markets integration after the financial and economic crisis, euroscepticism as well as an evolving European identity and associated obstacles of EU integration. Due to that, it was noticed that EU economy depended on EU policy and that the economic union will succeed the political one.

Concerning the Middle East conflict, Dr. Shlomo Shpiro of the Bar Ilan University illustrated UN and EU peacekeeping involvements. Experiences gained during the previous international missions were relevant for the present and future operations. Concluding his report, Dr. Shpiro pointed out, that a rearrangement of civil and military deployment would result in effective cooperation. Dr. Rafaella A. Del Sarto of The Middle East Centre of St. Antony's College, Oxford, positioned the EU as a security player and indicated, that there is a risk of managing conflicts by financial means instead of solving them. The operational structure of UN an EU missions in the Middle East were not perfect but workable.

Due to the subject of “Asia Rising”, Prof. Martin Holland, Canterbury University in New Zealand, presented a survey on Asian-Pacific perceptions of the EU and Europe by The National Centre for Research on Europe. Prof. Elise Brezis, director of The Azrieli Center for Economics Policy at the Bar Ilan University, supported the results examining the European-Asian relations. It was generally asserted, that the European Union was perceived as a unity of peace, security and democracy. Technological progress, migration into and within the EU as well as changes in leadership strengthened the EU’s global position on the economic and political level.

Prof. Charles Kupchan’s lecture on transatlantic relations after the Lisbon indicated a recent change in US and EU foreign policy. The Congress of the United States was polarized in its approach to the EU. A more national approach of individual EU member states, on the other hand, does not make it easier to formulate unified positions. Dr. Claire Spencer, head of The Middle East and North Africa Programm, gave her view on the current developments in the Arab world. Due to Dr. Spencer, an Arab Spring would be succeeded by a complex summer.

In the concluding panel discussion the question was posed: What impact does the Arab world’s upheavel have on Europe? The participants commented on integration, minority rights and reactions of the Arab population in different European countries. Dr. Bashar Azzeh, founding member of “The March 15th Movement”, noted that the Arab Spring is suggestive of being succeeded by an Arab summer, autumn, and winter. A Second Arab Awakening was the more precise term already employed by the news Channel Al Jazeera. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not remain unaffected by the Arab reorientation. Societies consist of dynamic individuals – thus, the Arab changes would have an impact on Europe.

Carolin Leist