Central European Outlook for the EU: Winning the Next Decade

On Friday 14th February, GLOBSEC hosted a dinner discussion on the sidelines of the 56th edition of Munich Security Conference on the topic of ‘Central European Outlook for the EU: Winning the Next Decade’. The discussion brought together national, European and US policymakers, leading think-tankers, experts and academics, journalist from international media as well as numerous ambassadors and political advisors. They were addressed by a high-level panel which included Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Jacek Czaputowicz, and Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford Timothy Garton Ash. The session was moderated by Deutche Welle’s Chief Political Correspondent Michaela Kuefner.

After short opening remarks from each of the speakers, as well as their initial responses, the floor was opened to questions. The discussion addressed first the key issues facing Central Europe, including the differing points of view regarding the rule of law and its importance to the wider European project. The issue is inextricably linked to the broader vision that the region can and should offer to the European Union for the EU to succeed in the next decade. The value of the transatlantic partnership was emphasized; that and the EU membership are an indispensable anchor for Central Europe in a complex world. Conversely, Central European vision is crucial for the EU, especially if the region contributes with constructive, positive agenda. The EU must strengthen trust and respect among its Member States, otherwise they will look for partners elsewhere. However, rather than becoming a superstate, the EU must become a superpower and take lead on the most pressing challenges of the day, especially in the realm of climate change and rules surrounding digital technologies and AI. There is also a need to formulate a principle-based common strategy towards China that would go beyond simply trying to outpace them in economic terms. What makes Europe unique and attractive is the balance between economic and social interests, but unless it works with all its Member States and the US, the non-democratic children of 1989 might end up winning the next decade.

Integrating European Defence: EU-NATO-UK and the Potential of Central Europe

On February 17, GLOBSEC hosted a roundtable discussion on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference titled Integrating European Defence: EU-NATO-UK and the potential of Central Europe. The event featured:

  • Mircea Geoană, Deputy Secretary General of NATO
  • Raimundas Karoblis, Minister of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius
  • Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence, Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin
  • General (ret.) Ben Hodges, former Commander of the United States Army in Europe, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies, The Center for European policy Analysis, Washington DC
  • Anna Wieslander, Director for Northern Europe, Future Europe Initiative, Atlantic Council, Stockholm
  • Manuel Lafont Rapnouil, Director of the Centre for Analysis, Forecasting and Strategy, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, French Republic, Paris

The discussion was moderated by Alena Kudzko, Deputy Research Director, GLOBSEC.

The case for the enhancement of European Defence is resounding. However, European Defence needs NATO and will not be credible without NATO at its core. In light of the increasing rivalry between great and emerging powers and the changing nature of security, neither Europe nor the U.S. can afford to go it alone. Furthermore, the transatlantic alliance needs to engage the broader political and technological West from around the world, including partners in the Asia Pacific region and Latin America. European Defence will need to be linked to the world. While further strengthening relations with the US and building coalitions with similarly minded partners from around the world, Europe should also focus on its internal cohesion. Europe fails, far too often, to agree on common positions. The repercussions of any further failure to identify common interests are likely to be grave. It is also crucial for Europe to find ways to keep the UK, including its capabilities and its strategic culture, invested in European security. This goal could be accomplished by opening up PESCO and EDF projects to third party participation and enhancing E3 meetings to ensure the unity and synergy of French, German, and British positions. On the other hand, the complementarity of EU Defence initiatives with NATO needs to be repeatedly stressed and tested on the ground. NATO will remain the central source of the mutual defence guarantee for Europe, especially for its Eastern members that are particularly exposed to threats emanating from the East. While multiple ideas and ambitious visions for the future of European defence are circulating, they still need to be transformed into concrete steps and implemented. This year’s Munich Security Conference chose Westlessness as its central theme, underscoring current doubts regarding Western leadership in the world and the sustained primacy of Western values and ideas. The participants of the roundtable used this re-assessment of the West’s position in the world and the restlessness invoked by it as a launch pad to agree on proposals designed to advance European security and convert the proposals into “concrete actions”.