The State of the Union 2023

The State of the Union 13th Edition - Florence, 4-5 May 2023

News / 15.5.23

This year Coppieters Foundation sent a delegation from its Global Office to Florence to attend and report on the State of the Union conference. Launched in 2011, The State of the Union (SOU) is the annual summit for reflection on the European Union which acts as a bridge between academia and policy-making in Europe. SOU brings together a blend of 500 participants from more than 100 countries and attracts an online public of 10,000 viewers through the live stream. The SOU attendees and speakers comprise academics, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and journalists from various kinds of disciplines. The conference is organized every year in Florence.

The 2023 conference, was focused on key issues split into five key topics:

▪ Challenges to democracy

▪ Geopolitics and EU priorities

▪ Green transition and energy security

▪ Rethinking the global economic scenario

▪ The digital and tech transition

This report is a collection of highlights from the four panels we followed.

The first panel ” Governing, fast and slow (and democratically)?” asked how European democracies can pursue both effective and sustainable solutions to present crises, without compromising fundamental democratic principles and social cohesion. Keynote speaker Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome, addressed the inability of European leaders to see the limits of growth in the EU and its consequences. She underlined that the EU must become the champion of positive peace and sustainable development. Anna Sobczak, a policy Coordinator at DG ENER, proposed just transition as Europe’s growth strategy, reinforced by involving citizens in the decision-making processes and starting from a local point.

The second panel “De-democratisation and opposition to gender equality politics in Europe” addressed the recent growth of far-right parties with an explicit anti-gender, anti-feminist, and/or homo-transphobic component and its spillover effects on more mainstream parties and politics in several EU member states. Johanna Kantola, professor of European Politics at  Helsinki University, noted that there is still a substantive percentage (30%) of MEPs that oppose gender equality, although it is a core value of the European Parliament, that is directly applied to EU policy. She called for a broader discussion on this reality and women’s rights.

The third panel “Crisis management and the sharing of catastrophic risks” reviewed the policy schemes that the EU has developed, to back up member states in the course of dealing with permanent crises. Sylvie Goulard, Member of the French Diplomatic Service and Kathleen R. McNamara, professor at Georgetown University, noted the need for mechanisms that are not based on subjective indicators so the EU can respond to simultaneous crises. Additionally, they asked for democratic accountability regarding re-insurance.

The fourth panel “Equality and its pivotal role in European democracies – 2023 and beyond” examined upcoming progress and possible struggles around equality and non-discrimination. Katalin Cseh, a member of the European Parliament, raised awareness around the violation of minority rights and the rise of populism in Europe today. She urged Europe to make a serious effort to protect all of its people’s rights.

Participating in this conference was an informative and fruitful experience for Coppieters Foundation. As a European political think tank, we are always looking for inspiration on how to strengthen and promote European values and democracy. This year’s SOU highlighted the need for self-assessment and re-evaluation of the systems we have in place to protect European peoples’ rights, especially in periods of crisis when our democracy is the most fragile.

. . .

Coppieters Foundation is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conferences, events or the opinions of the authors of our publications.

. . .

Thank you for following our activities over the past few years. We hope our updates have been useful to you. We would like to keep informing you about upcoming events, new publications, summer schools, and job vacancies. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear from us in your inbox.