The Shifting Sands of EUrope: COVID-19, Energy, and the Drumbeat of War
Just as EUrope was recovering from the pandemic, dealing with a cost of living crisis and challenges in the east to the rule of law, war has returned to the continent. The concoction of crises leaves EUrope reeling, its sands shifting. It is an era of paradigm changes, of making the previously impossible, possible. And yet it is an era of considerable strain – on relationships within EUrope, and those with its nearest partners. An era in which hopes and aspirations are re-assessed for many across the continent, and where the tomorrow is uncertain and possibly frightening. This conference will address how EUrope responds to the shifting sands of this era of madness. It will involve a mix of voices – of different generations and disciplines in addressing this most critical of subjects. Can this and future generations of EUropean leaders show the unity and agility required, or will internal divisions mean it falls short? The stakes simply cannot be higher.
About the 89 Initiative
The 89 Initiative is a pan-European ‘think-do’ tank working to address generational challenges that are international in nature. It adopts a future focus, harnessing the dynamism of a new generation of European thinkers and policy makers to infuse European policy debates with fresh political thinking about the generational challenges facing Europe. The aim of the 89 Initiative is to forge new transnational policy thinking about the future of Europe and the wider world.
The 89 Initiative is affiliated with the LSE European Institute in London and has partnerships with the College of Europe in Bruges, the University of Maastricht, the University of Bologna, and the University of Aberdeen. It was launched in London in 2019 and has recently made the move to Brussels, where in March 2022 it was incorporated as an Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif (AISBL) based at the Maison des Associations Internationales. The 89 Initiative has branches in seven European cities (Brussels, Maastricht, Warsaw, Athens, London, and Edinburgh) and runs 18 research programmes across the themes of climate, democracy, innovation, public health, cities and regions, and migration.
The annual conference
The annual conference is the flagship event of the 89 Initiative. It intends to create a forum for debate among some of the brightest minds in the EUropean politics and policy to discuss the generational challenges facing Europe. It aims also to provide a platform for its 18 research programmes to discuss their research, and apply their insights to the major challenges of the day. The format is a mixture of panel discussions and keynote addresses. This year, we will be organising the conference in partnership with Studio Europa Maastricht, of Maastricht University. The event will take place at the Brussels campus of the University and will also be live-streamed online.
A hybrid conference
This year, the conference will be held both in-person and online. The main venue in Brussels will host and chair each of the panels live, and it will stream the panels live on Zoom.
Panels and Speakers
9:00-9:30: Opening remarks: state of the union
The EU is operating in a world of shifting sands. COVID-19, the cost of living, the energy crisis, all made much worse by the Putin’s in Ukraine – the most serious geopolitical crisis since the Second World War. Our Director will provide a short address that speaks to these issues and present a vision for the EU over the next 12 months.
Opening remarks: Michael Cottakis (Director, 89 Initiative)
Chair: Akudo McGee-Osuagwu (Head of 89 Netherlands)
9:30-10:30: Shifting economies: pandemic and recovery in the EUropean south
Before the war in Ukraine, there was a pandemic. In 2021, the EU launched the Regenerate EU recovery fund that saw the European Commission raise and pump unprecedented sums of money into the EU 27 to offset the impact of COVID-19. Speakers will consider how the recovery fund is being deployed to ‘level up’ a European south suffering under the chronic weight of weak economic growth and debt.
Speakers: Dr. Angelo Martelli (Assistant Professor, LSE European Institute); Dr. Corrado Machiarelli (Research Manager, NIESR); Cinzia Alcidi (Director of Research, CEPS)
Chair: Michael Cottakis (Director, 89 Initiative)
11:00-12:00: Shifting economies: the pandemic and entrepreneurship
Another chronic problem is EUrope’s lack of innovative and entrepreneurial dynamism compared with some of its international counterparts. The pandemic had a dramatic effect on businesses practices worldwide. How might EUrope harness these to effectively compete on the international business stage?
Speakers: Victoria Chukwudum (Doctoral Researcher, University of Dundee); Mark Marino (VP of Growth Strategy, VentureWell); Dr. Joseph Ganderson (Research Officer, LSE European Institute); Dr. Vasileios Bougioukos (Lecturer, London South Bank University)
Chair: Marina Zoi Saoulidou (Head of 89 Greece)
12:00-13:00: Shifting politics: EUropean populism in times of pandemic and war
Populist politics have been a feature of world affairs for several decades, and have been particularly divisive for European democracies. The 2008 Financial Crisis, and years of economic and cultural insecurity have played their part. But how do we see populist dynamics developing? How have the pandemic and the war affected populism in EUrope?
Speakers: Dr. Roch Dunin-Wasowicz (Lecturer, UCL Social Research Institute); Dr. Marina Cino-Pagliarello (Lecturer, Essex University); Marina Zoi Saoulidou (Head of 89 Greece)
Chair: Elena Turci (Deputy Director, 89 Initiative)
14:00-15:00: Shifting politics: Innovating democracy and civil society
EUropean democracies are threatened on all sides. Populists are moving ever closer to the political mainstream while record numbers of citizens claim indifference towards democracy. With the threat of war on the European continent, how can democracies adapt and innovate to ensure their survival?
Speakers: Sophia Russack (Researcher, CEPS); Colombe Cahen-Salvador (Co-director, Atlas); Andrea Venzon (Co-director, Atlas)
Chair: Akudo McGee-Osuagwu (89 Netherlands)
15:00-16:00: Shifting people: Migrant securitisation in times of pandemic and war
With pandemic and war comes the spectre of securitisation. Treatment of refugees, migrants, and marginal groups in society tends to harden as the world becomes a more dangerous place. War can also foster solidarity – though not necessarily for all. How have the last two years changed European governments’ attitudes towards migration? Which groups have been securitised and why? More importantly, how can these patterns be reversed?
Speakers: Dr. Joseph Downing (Senior Fellow, Aston University); Dr. Katerina Glyniadaki (Visting Fellow, LSE European Institute); Zoe Gardner (Policy Manager, JCWI); Andreina de Leo, (Researcher, University of Maastricht)
Chair: Annelies van Rijen, Programme Manager (Studio Europa Maastricht)
16:00-17:00: Shifting power: Energy cooperatives, cities, and regions
Europe is as much a collection of cities, regions, and geographies as it is of nations. Surely, the solution to the myriad challenges we face – to our democracies, economies, and energy systems – must partly involve local governments. How can cities and regions be part of this solution? Can we rethink our governance to empower them to do this?
Speakers: Christian Scholl (Assistant Professor, Maastricht Sustainability Institute); Daniele Ietri (Full Professor, Free University of Bolzano-Bozen); Lars Holstenkamp (Research Associate, Institute of Sustainability Governance, Lüneburg University); Melanie Fessler (Research Analyst, European Policy Centre)
Chair: Akudo McGee-Osuagwu (Head of 89 Netherlands)
17:30-18:30: Keynote speech: Ukraine and EUropean security
When Putin invaded Ukraine earlier this year, Europe’s security position was fundamentally changed. What impact will the Ukraine War have on European defence and security dynamics? Can the EU become a geopolitical actor, and what should this look like?
Speakers: Dr. Benedetta Berti (Head of Policy Planning, NATO); Dr. Paul Stronski (Senior Fellow, Carnegie International); Dr. Nad’a Kovalcikova (Senior Analyst, EUISS); Suzanne Raine (Research Associate, Cambridge University)
Chair: Alexandros Zachariades (Head of Research, 89 Initiative)