24th Annual International Conference for Europeanists

Issued: Fri, 25 Aug 2017 13:16:00 BST

The Council for European Studies at Columbia University held its 24th Annual International Conference for Europeanists at the University of Glasgow between the 12-14th July. Nearly 1200 delegates attended over its three days.

The School of Social and Political Science hosted the event and several staff and postgraduate students participated to deliver papers,contributed to discussions, were panel session Chairs, and were also part of the local organising committee (headed by Dr Eamonn Butler). A further 100 students supported the event as conference volunteers and were reporters for The Conversation, the official conference media partner.

Nearly 300 panels, workshops, keynote lectures, book reviews, plenary sessions and other events were held throughout the conference. The theme was Sustainability and Transformation in Europe which allowed for some fascinating panel discussions addressing the re-imagining of Europe in the West, the entrenchment of the right wing politics in the East, and uncertainty of its future in the case of the UK and Brexit. 

Jan Willem Duyyendak, Chair of the Council for European Studies commented 'After years of financial, economic and political crises, there finally seems to be some more positive developments in Europe. Far right parties have been beaten in Austria, the Netherlands and France, which shows that right-wing populism is not necessarily the bleak future of European nation-states. These victories have – in combination with economic recovery given some self-confidence to pro-European parties, opening up possibilities to reform the EU and to seriously look at the negative sides of neoliberal globalization.  The renewed élan also helps in confronting some barely democratic governments within and on the periphery of Europe – in Hungary, Poland and Turkey – openly fluting European Union norms and reversing the march of democratization and respect for human rights. [While] the anti-EU mood in the UK (Brexit, even a soft one) and the US (the Trump administration) seems to have an interesting and unexpected effect: continental Europe is more ‘on its own’, having to look for new partnerships around the world, and having to take the lead in one of the most important battles of our times: the fight against global warming.'

The first of two keynote plenary sessions saw Judy Dempsey (Carnegie Europe) and Professor Anand Menon (Kings College London) provide a lively and thought provoking debate on the future of Europe in light of recent political referenda and elections, while the second plenary saw Lord Jack McConnell and Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli (University of Glasgow) discuss the role of Europe in transforming approaches to conflict and development.

Other conference highlights included a roundtable, sponsored by the Scottish Centre for European Relations and the European Commission in the UK, on the idea of a multi-speed Europe and the opportunities and challenges for the EU-27 to move forward in light of Brexit.  And a roundtable sponsored by the European Parliament Office in Edinburgh which explored the issue of Borders in a post-Brexit Europe and saw contributions from Catherine Stihler (MEP), Dr Katy Hayward (Queens Belfast), Francis Jacobs (former Head of the European Parliament Office Dublin), Mark Drakeford (Welsh Government) and Alasdair Allan (Scottish Government). They debatet the challenges and possible solutions faced by governments, businesses and citizens around the issue of borders. The full roundtable on Border in a post-Brexit Europe can be viewed online.  

One of the School's PGT students, Alexandra Ba-Tin, has written an article for Europe Now on one of the conference's discussion panels. The theme of the session was energy security in central and Eastern Europe, and it featured several Glasgow members of staff. 


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