Close to 100 people attended the TEPSA Pre-Presidency Conference at the IHS last week. The two-day conference focused on the key issues of the upcoming Austrian EU Council Presidency.
Participants of the conference were welcomed by TEPSA Secretary General Jaap de Zwaan and IHS board of trustees president Franz Fischler.
"An extremely challenging Presidency"
The conference started off with a keynote by Austrian Chancellery representative Alexander Schallenberg on the agenda of the upcoming Austrian Presidency under the motto: ‘A Europe that protects’. As is tradition for the pre-presidency conferences, Schallenberg was then presented with recommendations for the presidency from within the TEPSA network. The lively discussion was followed by a presentation of the forthcoming TEPSA book "The future of Europe – Views from the Capitals" by one of the editors, Paul Schmidt of the Austrian Society for European Politics, and a commemorative lecture by Brendan Donnelly, the director of the Federal Trust for Education and Research, in honour of British Scholar and Europeanist John Pinder.
Paul Schmidt, General Secretary of the Austrian Society for European Politics presented the Austrian Chapter of the TEPSA book "The future of Europe" that will be published in September 2018.
We have to get rid of the idea of being able to abolish migration and get used to the fact that we have to be capable of administering migration.
Berndt Körner, FRONTEX Deputy Director
The first day of the conference concluded with three parallel sessions about:
- Security and Border Control
- Realising the European Energy Union
- Digital Europe and Communication vis-a-vis less informed audiences
Among the many highlights of the sessions was the presentation by FRONTEX Deputy Executive Director Berndt Körner, who shared insights on the tasks of the agency, but also the challenges it faces. His urgent advice: Europe needs to get rid of the idea of being able to abolish migration and instead get used to the fact that it has to be able to administer migration.
Conflicts in the Western Balkans
The second day started with a round table on the Western Balkans and the region’s prospects for accession to the European Union with speakers from Macedonia , Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina as well as the Austrian Foreign Office. The lively discussion with the audience focused on the advantages of enlargement, but also the obstacles, especially unsolved conflicts within the region or the issue of enlargement fatigue within the EU and among its citizens. Participants welcomed especially the suggestion to give parliamentarians from Western Balkan countries observatory status in the European Parliament.
After a short break the conference continued with three parallel sessions about:
- (Re-) Developing the European Monetary Union
- Multi annual Financial Framework and Budget
- Migration Policy
The concluding remarks were delivered by TEPSA chairman Michael Kaeding of the University of Duisburg-Essen.
"We had two days of interesting and stimulating presentations as well as open and lively discussions between academics and policy-makers on issues that will not only concern the Austrian presidency, but that are also vital for the EU’s future", concludes the conference organiser, Katrin Auel, head of the research group for European Governance and Public Finance at the IHS.
We would like to thank our sponsors and cooperation partners the Central European Initiative (CEI), the government of Lower Austria (Wissenschaft – Forschung Niederösterreich), the Austrian Society for European Politics (ÖGfE), the Austrian National Bank (ÖNB), the Federal Trust for Education and Research, the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and the Erasmus+ and Europe for Citizens programmes of the European Union.