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YTL Centre hosts Law and Justice Forum on the Future of Europe

On the 16th of February the YTL Centre for Politics Philosophy and Law hosted the second Law and Justice Forum, this time on the topic of "The Future of Europe". The Centre had set itself the task to gather together an ideologically diverse group of thinkers and public figures to debate the challenges that Europe faces and the possible solutions. The Forum was set up to go beyond a mere Brexit or Crisis-of-EU event. It was aimed at thinking deeply about the geo-strategic, economic and cultural challenges and options of Europe. 

We were honoured to have been able to bring together a high-calibre list of speakers: former french Minister for European Affairs and Justice at the French Constitutional Court, Professor Noelle Lenoir, world-renown philosopher John Finnis, distinguished authority on European affairs Andrew Moravcsik, leading intellectual historian Larry Siedentop and well-known Swedish journalist Paula Neuding.

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The event started on a highly galvanising note with John Finnis opening the first academic panel, chaired by Dr Christoph Kletzer, in the afternoon. Professor Finnis put his finger on some issues academics often find unpalatable to talk about: mass-migration and Europe’s relation with Russia. On both topics he forcefully disagreed with the usual academic consensus and painted a rather bleak picture.  

After that Prof Moravcsik gave a more optimistic account, at least partly challenging Professor Finnis’s assessment. He argued that of the four dimensions along which the troubles Europe faces are commonly described (geopolitics, institutional design, migration and macro-economics) only the macro-economic dimension should be truly worrying us.

Paulina Neuding closed the first panel with an engaging presentation on the possible trade-offs between women’s rights to freedom and security, on the one hand, and immigration on the other. 

After a vibrant discussion with the academic audience and a well-deserved break, Sir Larry Siedentop kicked off the second panel, chaired by Professor Guglielmo Verdirame, by giving out the thereafter much repeated bonmot: "I would prefer a sloppy Habsburg Europe to a disciplined Hohenzollern Europe". He argued in favour of messy, multi-speed European integration and suggested that the UK enter into an Association Agreement with the EU.

Professor Noelle Lenoir concluded the afternoon by giving the most up-beat and optimistic of all five accounts. She argued that many of the perceived difficulties in Europe are to do with local politicians’ selective appraisal of Europe’s strengths and weaknesses, happy to blame any (local) problem on the EU and to claim any (European) success for themselves. She argued that the EU has now become part of our history and heritage and we should start treating it as such.

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In the early evening the Forum was concluded by a big public event. In front of a fully seated big lecture hall and with people queueing outside for seats, Henry Mance from the Financial Times led a lively debate with the participants.

The Forum was recorded and all the sessions can be found on the School of Law's YouTube page.

Photos from the event can be found on the School of Law's Flickr account.