In 2011, FEPS launched the “Call to Europe” initiative in order to address the challenges facing the European Union as we move through the 21st century. It sought to assess the progress of the European continent since World War II and of the integration process since the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1954. While this process has been remarkably successful in many ways – with more than 500 million people living in an order ruled by values such as peace, solidarity, freedom and democracy – the “European Project” faces many new and difficult challenges wrought by the present phase of globalisation. The pressures of global financial deregulation put the post-war socioeconomic paradigm under considerable strain and threatened, in particular, the keystone of this paradigm – the welfare state.
More recently, the movements towards further integration have brought major political challenges as Europeans face difficult decisions about how far and wide to pursue political integration. While political union was significantly furthered by the Maastricht Treaty, further advancements through the Treaties of Nice and Lisbon and the European Convention have not been able to address the concerns that people have over the quality of EU democratic process.
The 2011 “Call to Europe” conference sought to address these major themes with a view to helping citizens look at the European Union as a solution to the crises they face, rather than as part of the problem. It dealt the social, political and economic difficulties facing the European project and how they might best be addressed. Furthermore, last year’s conference addressed the issue of “Europe in the World”, looking at the position of the European Union in a context of multipolarity and a shift eastwards in the locus of global economic power.
This year, FEPS will once again return to the issue of “Europe in the World” and the whole “Call to Europe” conference will be dedicated to it.