Despite the hopes raised by the most recent Treaties, the Lisbon Treaty in particular, the European Union has been unable to strengthen, let alone develop its role on the international stage. A couple of weeks away from the European Parliament elections, we need to ask ourselves what can reasonably be done by the upcoming Parliament to ensure that significant progress is made with respect to the EU’s foreign policy. Some of this progress could result from the implementation of the European Security Strategy or originate from the role and initiatives of the High Representative/Vice-president of the Commission. In addition, rethinking specific approaches could allow for significant improvements in key areas such as the EU’s dealings with neighbouring countries, its commercial relationship with the US, its energy security or its common security and defence policy.

In recent years, preoccupied by the debt crisis, the fragility of its financial institutions, the fight it wages for growth and against unemployment, and the rise of populism, the European Union (EU) failed to strengthen, let alone increase its influence and presence on the international stage. Therefore, a couple of weeks before European citizens are called to exercise their great democratic right to elect a new European Parliament, the big question is this: in light of harsh realities and past failures, what can reasonably be done by the next Parliament to make significant progress with the Union’s foreign policy?

On this, Eneko Landaburu from Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, published the policy brief "The Role of the European Union in the World".

At CEPS ANNUAL CONFERENCE 28 February 2008, about 250 participants commemorated CEPS 25th anniversary: 'Thinking Ahead to the Next 25 Years'.
What will be the grand ideas and projects of the next 25 years? The EU will be needed as an actor on the global scene, helping to forge the new world order that is emerging with the rise of players such as China and India. The need to strengthen the EU as an effective actor in the international arena, to enhance European identity, or to render EU decision-making more democratic – it is difficult to say now what will be the issues that drive the EU forward for the next two decades or so. The CEPS 2008 Annual Conference devoted debating precisely to these questions.


I. Europe's Role in the World
Should the European
neighbourhood policy become a fully-fledged tool? How high should the EU sets its level of ambition in terms of defence capabilities? How to strike the right balance between hard and soft power, and is it desirable and (if so) possible to speak with a single voice?

II. Internal Challenges
How to sustain the
welfare state in the face of current demographic trends? How to enhance economic growth in order to maintain and improve both the level of employment and living standards? And given the likehood that large waves of immigrants will continue to make their way onto EU territory, how best to integrate their diverse cultures and religions into relatively homogeneous societies? Tackling the issue of energy supply and its trades-off with environmental sustainability, what policy options should the EU be exploring?

III. Researching Europe: Brainstorming CEPS Priorities
Speakers: Onno Ruding
, Olli Rehn,
Robert Cooper, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Jean Marie Guéhenno, Bronislaw Geremek (†), Wolfgang Wessels, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Nick Butler.

The world is organising. Persuasiveness, great leadership and aspiration are of enormous relevance in the changing global order with upcoming markets. Other main points are demography, migration and energy. Another aspect is the presence deficit of technicians, that can become a problem in the future.
To anticipate upon this, creating an alliance on European level between academics, public, institutions and others could contribute to solutions. Further raised valid understandings were continuity, integration and especially the next generation, for "people with grey hair alone don't make Europe".

'We should not fall into the trap of selfdestruction or self fulfilling prophecy. Volatility, dynamics, flexibility and including everything should be course of things. A very triggering, inspiring and useful brainstorming session.

CEPS AC 2008

CEPS AC 2008