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17 October 2022

High-level Debates Mark Second Day of ERA Congress


Foto: High-level Debates Mark Second Day of ERA Congress.


The second and final day of ERA’s 30th Anniversary Congress in Trier on 14 October 2022 was all in the context of European sovereignty. In the morning, the 300 participants broke off into three different topical sessions before returning for a joint session in the afternoon.

Working groups

The session on the strategic sovereignty of the Union started off with a keynote address by Bruno Dupré from the European External Action Service. He pointed out that “some of the concepts of the EU values like sovereignty, democracy, capitalism, multilateralism must be rediscussed and reconceived” in the light of the current crises, such as the war in Ukraine, climate change and the economic situation. According to Dupré, the definition of sovereignty is “acting collectively whenever possible and autonomously whenever necessary.” The panel then considered different dimensions of strategic sovereignty, such as energy supply, trade and development assistance, defence, and the political aspects. Dirk Buschle, Deputy Director at the Energy Community Secretariat, defined the concept of sovereignty in the context of energy policy linking it to access to natural resources and the need for a foreign common policy to secure such access. Inge Goveare, Professor at Ghent University, put the focus on trade and development assistance, stressing the original significance of trade for the European Union, namely as an instrument to maintain peace and stability. It is important for the EU to be “ready to explain its own values to the external world and to listen to other values”, she said. Panos Koutrakos, Professor at the City University of London, underlined the difficulties and obstacles linked to the functioning of the Common Security and Defence Policy, ending on a positive note as to the current actions undertaken by the European Commission to reach a common defence policy in the EU. Elena Yoncheva, Member of the European Parliament, reflected on the important role played by diplomacy to solve conflicts but emphasised the need to analyse the reasons for the current crisis.

Thomas Piketty from the Paris School of Economics spoke at the session on budgetary and fiscal sovereignty about the possibilities of a “New Budgetary Regime for Europe” and presented the manifesto for the democratisation of Europe. The ensuing debate between Fabian Amtenbrink, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Alicia Hinarejos, McGill University Montreal, Anna Jarosz-Friis, Directorate-General for Budget at the European Commission, and Margarida Marques, Member of the European Parliament, focused on whether the financing of NextGenerationEU will be a one-off initiative or constitute a precedent to be followed, as well as on the economic and constitutional impact of NextGenerationEU and budgetary sovereignty of the EU and Member States.
In the session on digital sovereignty, Mireille Hildebrandt from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel examined questions posed by digital sovereignty in technology and rule-setting, also covering concerns regarding cybersecurity, the control over data and to large online platforms. The panelists examined various aspects of the EU’s digital policy including privacy and data protection, DMA and DSA as policy projects leading to European digital sovereignty and implementing the EU’s cybersecurity strategy. Marc van der Woude, President of the General Court of the European Union, moderated the panel, which was composed of Cornelia Kutterer, Microsoft, Paul Nemitz, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, European Commission, Nathalie Smuha, KU Leuven, and Maciej Szpunar, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Keynotes and High-Level Panel

After lunch, Anu Bradford from Columbia Law School, New York City, gave a lively keynote lecture on the “The Brussels Effect” and European sovereignty. She defined the Brussels effect as “the phenomenon that the EU has a unilateral ability to regulate the global marketplace”, for example in the way the most influential digital companies use a single global privacy regulation which complies with the European GDPR. Instead of a Washington or Beijing effect, we can see a Brussels effect because of Europe’s market size and value, its complex regulatory infrastructure and its political will to impose such rules.


The final part of the congress considered the democratic organisation of European sovereignty in a panel discussion with Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia, Vera Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, former President of the European Commission and Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Christophe Hansen, Member and Quaestor of the European Parliament, Tibor Navracsics, Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds of Hungary, and Marian-Cătălin Predoiu, Minister of Justice of Romania. Christine Landfried, Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of Hamburg closed the Congress with a lecture on a federal future for the European Union, examining the mechanisms of Euorpean governance, the criteria for judging reforms and the reforms necessary for a democratic and sovereign European Union.

More photos are available at: https://era30.eu/congress/

The Academy of European Law (ERA) promotes the good practice of European law by providing training and a forum for debate to all legal professionals. It is a public foundation, created in 1992 at the initiative of the European Parliament.

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