Debating the Future of Europe

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From October 2020 to March 2021, Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the Alliance Program, and the European Institute presented ‘Debating the Future of Europe,’ a collaborative series of debates dedicated to the future of Europe, featuring leading scholars from Columbia and prominent creative writers, intellectuals, and journalists from the European Union.

This series of twelve on-line programs addressed six centrally important questions facing Europe today:

  • How Can Europe Achieve Social Justice?
  • Are Europe and America Drifting Apart?
  • Can the EU Lead the Fight Against Climate Change?
  • Is Europe Democratic?
  • Is There a European Identity?
  • Can Europe Be Sovereign?

The six questions were explored in two distinct monthly programs: the first, an interview in French; the second a moderated discussion in English.

The interviews in French, conducted by Thierry Grillet, included guests: economist Pierre André Chiappori, writer Benoît Peeters, glaciologist and climatologist Jean Jouzel, physicist Sébastien Balibar, writer and philosopher Felwine Sarr, and editorialist Pierre Haski.

Serving as the Anglophone counterpoint, the moderated discussions included such scholars as Anu Bradford, Alex Halliday, Mark Lilla, Mark Mazower, Dominique, Reynié, Jack Snyder, Adam Tooze, Laurence Tubiana, Nadia Urbinati, and Andreas Wimmer, among others. 

The 'Debating the Future of Europe' series resulted from a new creative partnership between Columbia’s Global Center in Paris, its Alliance Program, its European Institute, and Thierry Grillet, former director of Cultural Affairs at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).

Co-sponsored by: Columbia Alumni Association,Columbia Maison FrançaiseColumbia University Libraries, the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, the European Legal Studies Center at Columbia Law School, Le Grand Continent, La Maison de l'Europe de Paris, and Sciences Po American Foundation. With additional support from the Erasmus + programme of the European Union and the Advisory Board of the Paris Global Center.

Discover the complete program below.

How Can Europe Achieve Social Justice?

In the context of increased concern in Europe and America about inequalities, social exclusion and discrimination, this session revisited Europe's commitment to promoting social justice.

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Speaker bios

October 13, 2020: Andreas Wimmer (Columbia), Leila Hadj Abdou (European University Institute), Bruno Palier (Sciences Po) and Turkuler Isiksel (Columbia), in a debate moderated by German journalist Ali Aslan.
October 6, 2020: Thierry Grillet interviews economist Pierre André Chiappori

Are Europe and America Drifting Apart?

This session examined the relationship between Europe and America in light of the US presidential election, as well as current developments in the EU's relationships with China and Russia.

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Speaker bios

November 17, 2020: Célia Belin (Brookings Institute), Sheri Berman (Barnard), Jack Snyder (Columbia SIPA), and Pierre Vimont (former French Ambassador to the U.S.). Debate moderated by The New York Times’s Roger Cohen.
November 10, 2020: Thierry Grillet interviews author Benoît Peeters (in French).

Can the EU Lead the Fight against Climate Change?

Participants in this session discussed the European Green Deal: What has been achieved since the launch of the EU Green Deal in December 2019? What is the impact of the Covid crisis on efforts to address climate change? How is the EU partnering with other international actors to fight climate change?

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Event recap from Columbia University News

December 15, 2020: Laurence Tubiana (European Climate Foundation), Alex Halliday (Earth Institute, Columbia), Jason Bordoff (SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia), and Enrico Letta (PSIA) in a debate moderated by Adam Tooze (European Institute).

Is Europe Democratic?

Participants in this session addressed democratic participation in Europe, with a focus on the EU institutions (the so-called "democratic deficit") and on the EU's response to challenges to democracy within member states. 

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Event recap article

January 26, 2021: Nadia Urbinati (Columbia), Ivan Krastev (Centre for Liberal Strategies), Luuk van Middelaar (Leiden University) and Rui Tavares (writer). Debate moderated by Yves Mény.
January 20, 2021: Thierry Grillet interviews Sylvain Bourmeau, director of the AOC (Analyse Opinion Critique).

Is there a European Identity?

This session explored whether the EU integration process has forged a sense of common identity (culturally and politically) among Europeans. Participants also discussed how minorities and migrants relate to such an identity.

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Event recap article

February 9, 2021: Mark Lilla (Columbia), Riva Kastoryano (Sciences Po), Magali Bessone (Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne), in a debate moderated by Mark Mazower (Institute for Ideas and Imagination).
February 3, 2021: Thierry Grillet interviews writer and economist Felwine Sarr.

Can Europe be Sovereign?

Three years ago, President Macron called for "a sovereign, democratic, and united Europe". For her part, Chancellor Merkel emphasized that "Europeans must take their fate into their own hands.” Participants in this session examined whether Europeans have made progress towards these goals.

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Event recap article

March 9, 2021: Anu Bradford (European Legal Studies Center, Columbia), David Goodhart (journalist), Boris Ruge (Munich Security Conference), and Dominique Reynié (Sciences Po). Debate moderated by Carlo Invernizzi Acetti.
March 2, 2021: Thierry Grillet interviews journalist Pierre Haski, founder of Rue 89.