Summer Academy on Europe
2006 Summer Academy on Europe
Next-generation leaders from politics, business and media convene at Seeon Monastery in Bavaria
Energy security and China and India as rising powers, Europe’s social model and the EU’s constitution -- those were just some of the topics addressed at this year’s Summer Academy on Europe, organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation and held from August 28 to September 1, 2006, at Seeon Monastery in Bavaria. Almost 90 participants came together the event, the eighth Summer Academy to take place.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik was invited to mark out “Guideposts for a new definition of the European project,” something she did by giving initial remarks and then opening up the discussion to Summer Academy participants. The debate focused on the future of the EU constitution, which the foreign minister pointed out was the first truly joint undertaking of the European Union’s 25 members -- a key reason why the endeavor should not be given up, she said.
It was a position very much endorsed by other recognized European politicians such as European Parliament members Elmar Brok and Jo Leinen and state secretary at the German Interior Ministry, Peter Altmaier. Former UK Minister of State for Europe Denis MacShane contributed to the discussion from a different perspective, saying that it must be possible to consider options that would clad Europe’s political structure in less weighty attire.
Plassnik expressed the conviction that Europe is in the process of developing a joint sensibility for borders, which is why Austria consciously focused on the Balkans during its EU presidency in the first half of 2006. “We can never lose sight of the fact that the prospect of accession is the key driver of reform in the western Balkan nations,” she said. “In addition, the Balkan countries are an interesting partner in terms of the Islamic world. Given its Muslim-European connection it can serve as a venue for transmitting European values to the Arab world.” Prior to Plassnik’s remarks, Cem Özdemir, member of the European Parliament, spoke to the academy’s participants in a similar vein about the possibility of Turkey joining the EU.
The up-and-coming decision makers also discussed the topic of “Europe’s role in the world,” examining the political and economic conditions relating to a European policy on energy security, the future of transatlantic relations, the rise of China and India, and the EU’s new policy toward its eastern neighbors.
The event’s final segment focused on Europe’s economic development in coming years, with attendees, including former Slovakian Finance Minister Ivan Miklos, exchanging views on the Lisbon Strategy and the EU’s current budget, as well as Europe’s social model.
The Summer Academy on Europe is an annual forum that brings together Europe’s next-generation leaders for an in-depth, forward-looking discussion of political, business and social issues.