From July 10th-20th Europeum organized its yearly European Summer School for international university students, this year focused on the topic of Central Europe after the Lisbon Treaty. It was an interesting bunch of people we welcomed at one of Prague’s university dorms on a Saturday morning- from a law student from San Francisco, CA to students working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tbilsi, Georgia. The 10-day program was quite intense, and I was lucky to be free to choose whichever lectures or excursions I wanted to attend. After an initial barbecue, during which I tried to memorize some of the over 50 names and faces, we started off on Monday with a seminar on energy security in the EU. It was refreshing to find myself in an academic setting again - taking notes, marking down questions. The lecturer, who was the Czech Ambassador for Energy issues and a very high profile energy expert in the EU, adopted quite a controversial stance to get the discussion going (and he certainly succeeded at making me eager to argue). His main argument was that the EU was simply not a global player but instead continuously fails to go with the times - while countries like the US, Russia and China are ruling the game. He said that unless there are major policy changes, the EU will become increasingly dependent on foreign energy sources and thus lose even more of its political influence. However, some of his statements seemed to imply that China or Russia were enviable models to copy. While I agree that the EU is often inefficient and lacks the capacity to act - the Nabucco pipeline from Turkey to Austria has been planned for ages and yet nothing has happened so far, whereas the first pipeline from Siberia to China has basically been completed in two years - I think one needs to differentiate when it comes to ambitions and methods. The EU is 1) not a country and will thus never act as efficiently as one country on its own 2) made out of democratic nations with democratic decision-making procedures that often take time and 3) not eager to rely on military force (which I see as a positive rathetr than negative factor). However, I do see that if Europe wants to be taken seriously, it needs to invest in the future, something that has not happened nearly as sufficiently. Research and development continues to be cut rather than expanded. Education systems are lagging behind. A lot of re-thinking needs to happen.
Other highlights included a trip to the Foreign Ministry, a discussion about Turkey in the EU and a seminar on European security and defense policy. More details will follow!