From the future of Europe, to pushing climate policies, AI governance & global competition to inclusive European policies and rethinking European autonomy, at the Karlspreis Europa Forum 2022 on November 16, 2022, organized jointly with the North Rhine-Westphalian state government, high-ranking experts and Charlemagne Prize Academy Fellows discussed topics from the fields of security, energy and economy.
The international conference also provided a platform for young Europeans to present their ideas on the future of Europe. On the one hand, the Fellows of the Academy, which was launched in 2019, presented their research results and the new cohort 2022/2023 was ceremoniously presented. On the other hand, exciting speakers and discussion contributions led to fruitful and lively debates, for example in the new format "Brussels Speaking" in which young participants from renowned European universities as well as recipients of the Charlemagne Youth Prize discussed with the former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who is now a member of the European Parliament.
In his opening speech, Minister for European Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Nathanael Liminski emphasised that Russia's attack on Ukraine is an attack on the whole of Europe, which will be countered together and with combined forces: "Putin wants to destroy Western democracy. Through an energy and refugee crisis, through destabilizing our society, through disinformation and attacks on our infrastructure. If we want to preserve our European model of life, we must join forces in order to survive as an economic area, as a pioneer in climate change and as a guarantor of peace, democracy and the rule of law. The turn of the times demands a European self-conception and a European self-evidence - if not now, when? To get there, we need a discussion that brings everyone to the table: politics, science and business. Young and old. That is what the Charlemagne Prize Summit does."
The opening speech was followed by a panel discussion on "State of the Union: Taking Stock and Thinking Ahead" with, among others, the President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Heather A. Conley, and Prof. Anne Deighton (Emeritus Professor of European International Politics at Wolfson College, University of Oxford), who explained "Institutional building in democratic societies is a messy business. It is part of the democratic process. We should not be afraid to quarrel as long as we are on the same side".
The discussion "The European Union’s Strategic Compass: Rethinking Security" included Rosa Balfour, Director of Carnegie Europa, Theresa Fallon, Founder and Director of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies, Ian Bond, Director of Foreign Policy at the Center for European Reform, and Andrew A. Michta, Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. In a lively discussion, the impact, and consequences of the war in Ukraine were discussed. Andrea Michta in particular drew attention to the fact that "if we don't reach a satisfactory military solution for Ukraine, all talks about rebuilding Ukraine will be academic only." Rosa Balfour drew a positive conclusion, "Europe is remarkably united considering how much Europeans are suffering."
Under the title "How can European Policies Operate in a more Inclusive and Diverse Way", Fellows Mona Miriam Mukalazi and Martin Speer presented the results of their one-year research fellowship, while Fellow Justinas Lingevičius, presented the results of his work at the roundtable discussion AI Governance & Global Competition.
During the discussion "Europe's Energy Transition: Balancing Energy Security and Climate Protection", the participants, including Christophe McGlade, Head of the Energy Supply Unit at the International Energy Agency, Simone Mori, Head of Europe, Enel Group, Achim Wambach, President, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, Kirsten Westphal, Executive Director, H2Global Foundation, and Gunnar Muent, Director General of the European Investment Bank, quickly agreed that the current energy crisis poses a massive threat to Europe and threatens to break up the European Union. However, it was also agreed that only by acting simultaneously on energy substitution, savings and solidarity can Europeans find a way out of the current crisis.
On the panel "Europe's Economies under Pressure: Adapting to the Current Challenges", Karlspreis Fellow Nadina Iacob discussed with Stefan Berger, Member of the European Parliament, Rolf Strauch, Chief Economist and Management Board Member, European Stability Mechanism and Alexander Wilden, CEO of schwartz GmbH, among others, the question of how we can best achieve the success and sustainability of both the green transition and the digital transformation without jeopardising the foundations of European economies.
Stefan Berger took European politics to task and demanded: "The EU has not reacted quickly enough to the war. [...] We have a crisis situation, we don't need more regulations, we need action."
How can Europe communicate its climate goals in a targeted way? What kind of framework is needed and what concerns need to be addressed on the way to a more sustainable and greener society? Max Jacobs, Charlemagne Prize Scholar 2021/22, presented his closing research project under the title: "Between Framing and Action: Pushing Climate Policies in Europe".
On the occasion of the European Year of Youth, young Europeans talked about the future of Europe with MEP, co-chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. In the lively discussion, moderated by Fellow Martin Speer, Verhofstadt addressed words of warning to those present and called for action: "We use the word Union, but we are not a Union. We are patchwork. There will be the day the European Union disappears when we don't change the things we work.”
Thus, the will to shape Europe into a stronger and sovereign actor continues to grow steadily.