For the motion:
Radek Sikorski, Polish politician and journalist, formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk’s government
Flavia Kleiner: Swiss political activist and co-founder of the transpartisan political movement Operation Libero
Against the motion:
Douglas Murray: British journalist, author, and prominent Brexit advocate, founder of the Centre for Social Cohesion and Associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society, Associate Editor of The Spectator
Aleksandra Rybińska: German-Polish political scientist , board member of the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, expert on international relations and migration at Warsaw Institute
Josef Janning, Head of Berlin Office and Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations
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The European Union is an astonishing achievement. Out of the ravages of two world wars, brutal totalitarian regimes, and economic hardship, the integration of nations has provided greater health, prosperity, and peace than at any other point in human history. To undermine this stability with nationalist rhetoric is a gross act of hubris and deception. For starters, European countries have always flourished as part of larger political entities. The self-determining nation states the populists love to tout have, in fact, relied on imperial structures and cross-border alliances. What’s more, the major issues of our times — technological disruption, climate change, nuclear armament and south to north migration — make a mockery of national borders. To wave flags and build walls at such transnational realities is not only irresponsible, but deluded. One need look no further than Britain to see this self-implosion in action. In this day and age, European member states can only survive, let alone flourish, in ever closer union.
What conceit, say the nationalists. People across Europe have long since lost faith in the vain utopian attempt to maintain the so-called liberal order that does nothing but serve the elites while leaving the ordinary working individual behind. From the EU’s glaring democratic deficit to the dissolution of European culture by mass immigration, citizens are fed up with Brussels technocrats telling them how to live their lives. National sovereignty is central not just to properly-functioning political institutions but also to societal cohesion, fulfilling basic needs for belonging and identity, as well as the right to self-determination. Nationalist populist movements all over Europe are a direct response to the devastating consequences of pooled national sovereignty. Closer union spells catastrophe; Europe’s best — if not only — hope is in a neighbourly cooperation of sovereign nations, not in the imposition of yet more supra-national directives.
In the run up to the European Parliament elections in May, join us and our illustrious panel on 13th March to hear the arguments and have your say.
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