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Sixth Prague European Summit: urgent questions, common answers

  • By hosting the summit in the very heart of Europe, Europeum and the Institute of International Relations Prague want to contribute to recasting the image of the Czech Republic (Photo: PES)

Dozens of panel discussions and debates. Hundreds of prominent guests from the ranks of political representatives, state officials, representatives of interest groups, businesspeople, academics, and journalists. Countless media appearances. Urgent political challenges, bold visions.

These are the basic facts and figures behind a platform for a regular high-level strategic debate on the future of the European Union: the Prague European Summit.

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Its sixth edition takes place on 18 and 19 November, 2020.

Do you know the history of this project, topics of previous years and, most importantly, people who transform its main ideas into reality?

"By holding the Prague European Summit, we hope to show that central Europe isn't like the doughnut hole in the middle of the EU," said Vladimír Bartovic, the director of Europeum Institute for European Policy, six years ago.

By hosting the summit in the very heart of Europe, Europeum and the Institute of International Relations Prague want to contribute to recasting the image of the Czech Republic – as a member state which self-confidently yet constructively joins the strategic discussions on the course of the EU.

This is apparent from the list of summit's long-time patrons, partners and supporters: the ministry of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic, the office of the government of the Czech Republic, the municipality of Prague and the representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.

From EU institutions to climate change

From the very beginning, the organisers were not afraid of asking big questions, exploring problems that matter and dealing with difficult topics.

The first - pilot - year (with the subtitle "EU Institutions Fit for External Challenges") dealt with the issue of the EU's neighbourhood destabilisation and the problematics of (in)sufficient democratic legitimacy of the EU institution.

The 2016 edition, "The EU in a Time of Crisis: Better Together?", focused on the topic of "togetherness", solidarity and cohesion.

While radicalisation in Europe, Brexit or the future of the single market and digitalisation were some of the main topics on the agenda in 2017, it was the subject matter of the role of the EU as a global power that took over the course of the 2018 Prague European Summit edition.

And whereas 2019 was, under the anxious awaiting of results of the European Parliament election, anticipated and denoted as Europe's "Year of Change", the Prague European Summit 2020 will discuss the current and future challenges of the EU: climate change, post-pandemic recovery or, among others, transatlantic relations and the compliance with the rule of law principles.

"We need to talk to each other, understand our difference and wake up those who sleepwalk. That's why we need events like Prague European Summit," reminded then-Czech minister of foreign affairs Lubomír Zaorálek ,four years ago.

And his words are more accurate today than ever before.

Over the last six years, the summit has welcomed many exciting speakers and guests from all around the world.

Whether it was ministers of foreign affairs, researchers, vice-presidents of the European Commission or directors of European organisations and associations who took the floor and spoke, the main message and the ultimate goal remain the same: discussing EU's future, deliberating over the new challenges the European Union needs to deal with and finding common answers to the critical questions in the economic, social, foreign-political and institutional areas.

"For many years, I have been listening to calls that we need 'more Europe', or that we have to create and develop an 'ever closer Europe'.

"These days, after a decade of growing uncertainties and rapid technological development, as well as the rise of populism, nationalism, and extremism, I would modify these slogans. What we need is as much Union as necessary, but as little Union as possible," remarked Mikuláš Dzurinda, the former prime minister of Slovakia during his Vision for Europe Award speech at Prague European Summit 2019.

However, none of it would be possible without coordinators and organisers who stand behind the summit.

"Together, we created a singular space for debate on Europe and its future," said the director of the Institute of the International Relations Prague, Ondřej Ditrych, in his closing remarks of the 2019 edition.

You can learn more about Prague European Summit 2020 here.

Author bio

Kristýna Svobodová is finishing her masters in European studies and holds a bachelor's in media studies and journalism at the faculty of social studies of Masaryk University in Brno. She worked as a reporter and editor for various Czech news portals and newspaper editorial offices and joined EUROPEUM in 2019 as an intern. In her research, she focuses on the topics of V4 cooperation, the region of central Europe and separatist tendencies in the United Kingdom and other EU member states.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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