Europe’s Futures Annual Symposium – Day 1

Conferences and Workshops

At the Europe's Futures Annual Symposium 2023, the fifth cohort of Europe’s Futures Fellows presented the conclusions of their research in the academic year 2022/23. The findings were discussed with the Europe’s Futures Alumni Network and researchers from the University of Rijeka Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe.


09:45 Welcome by Ivan Vejvoda, Misha Glenny

10:00-11:00 EU Enlargement and Transatlantic Cooperation: A Shared Challenge in Response to the Russo-Ukrainian War 

Keynote: Veronica Anghel

The Russo-Ukrainian War has reignited discussions on two fronts: the European Union's enlargement process and the transatlantic cooperation between the United States and Europe. This talk aims to address the main threat lying at the intersection of these two spheres. Both the EU and NATO have responded to the conflict, yet their approaches reveal potential pitfalls for the future. The EU's use of enlargement as a stabilization and security-building mechanism, rather than a definitive solution, raises questions about the effectiveness of this strategy. Similarly, the transatlantic response, while exhibiting solidarity, highlights the challenges of forging a cohesive partnership without a shared overarching goal. By examining these issues, we can shed light on the complexities of navigating enlargement and transatlantic cooperation amidst a rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape.

11:30-12:30 Bringing Back Meritocracy to the EU Accession Process

Keynote: Kristof Bender

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has forced the EU to become more supportive of its neighborhood. Von der Leyen, Scholz, and Macron now say that the EU has to revive its enlargement policy. How exactly this should look like is less clear, however, as Macron explicitly admits. In his view the geopolitical imperative for enlargement is accompanied by a strong need for internal EU reform. The risk is that given the difficulty of the latter, the former will remain stuck as well. This can be avoided if the EU manages to make a credible, attractive offer to accession countries whose realization depends solely on the own efforts of each accession country, but that stops short from offering what reluctant member states like France are unprepared to give.

12:30-13:30 Break

13:30-14:30 War as a Solution? Scenarios and Implications of Russo-Ukrainian War for the EU Eastern Neighborhood and Policy

Keynote: Balázs Jarábik

The research focuses on the background (internal and external factors) of Russia’s devastating war in Ukraine, the scenarios how the war can work out, as well as the impact on the EU Eastern Neighborhood.  The key implication is that the EU faces a breaking point in terms of a divided (geographic) Europe. The war literally broke the neighborhood, hence the Eastern Partnership policy as well.  Due to its remarkable resilience Ukraine has a chance of emerging as a winner from the war, but its destruction seems also inevitable (as symbolized by the Khakovka dam). In the current framework, Brussels needs both a sober reflection and smart planning to bridge the difference between symbolic and tangible steps of integration. 

15:00-16:00 Voters 2024

Keynote: Ivana Dragičević

The idea of the Conference on the Future of Europe process was to restore trust in European democracy and include citizens in deliberating on the EU's future, because the question of democratic deficit in times of digital transformation, green transition, geopolitical turbulences and disinformation will be one of the key issues for the legitimacy of Europe. After pandemics and while war in Ukraine lasts, Gen Z was one of the population groups on which the crisis had the biggest influence. Will the crisis motivate them to go out and vote on EU elections 2024? Why is the mental health issue no.1 for them? How disinformation and lack of adaptability of school systems influence their choices and their view on democracy? How persistent inequality in Europe affects their political preferences and engagement in political process? Youth is fifth of the population in the EU, continent with negative demographic trend, they are unrepresented within political parties, national and European parliament.

A playlist with all recorded discussion panels is available here.


Europe’s Futures is IWM’s strategic partnership initiative with the ERSTE Foundation aiming to understand and address challenges posed to Europe and the European Union by the eroding of democracy, rule of law deficiencies, migratory pressures or climate change.

In cooperation with University of Rijeka Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe (UNIRI CAS SEE).