The European Interests: Redefining the European Debate
Should the European Union be enlarged to include additional member states? Is Europe well equipped to act as an assertive actor in foreign policy? Does the EU have what it takes to address the most pressing challenges in today’s world, ranging from internal democratic backsliding to the climate crisis and a global pandemic?
When scrutinizing issues in international politics such as these, the concept of the national interest is a prominent perspective. In the analysis of EU policy, however, the equivalent to the national interest, the European interest, is rarely, if ever, invoked. Yet without a coherently conceptualized and repeatedly applied notion of one or multiple European interests during the EU policy formation process, Europeans risk the renationalization of EU policy debates, decision-making paralysis, and underappreciation of the EU’s potential.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States has launched an innovative project that aims to produce a workable definition of what constitutes the European Interest(s) that will facilitate the evaluation of policy ideas and concrete policies by decisionmakers in the future.
We would like to gather your input on a first definition of the European Interest(s) to assess whether the EU’s policy represents the interests of its citizens. A selected group of diverse citizens from all over Europe will be invited to provide input on guidelines for the European Interest. You could be one of them. With your support, we hope to advance the European debate by inserting the European Interest(s) as a novel analytical category that appeals to citizens and policymakers.
In an interactive and moderated group discussion we want to find out: What are the European Interests? Which current policies and policy proposals serve the European Interests? Which do not?
If you live in the EU or its neighborhood, including the UK, by August 16 to discuss these questions with citizens from all over Europe in an online dialogue on September 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CET
About the Project
The European Interest(s): Redefining the European Debate is a project carried out by the German Marshall Fund with kind support from Stiftung Mercator and has been running since September 2020. A consortium of European experts has contributed to a first definition of the European Interest concept that is now to be evaluated by a representative group of citizens. The definition will consequently be revised, featured in a flagship publication, and presented at several public launch events in autumn.
The project aims to reform and rejuvenate the European debate. Ultimately, we want to provide decisionmakers and other protagonists with a new concept and narrative in their struggle over the future of Europe. Our target groups are decisionmakers in political institutions, academics, the think tank community, and the media, as well as civil society and citizens.
Phase 1: Defining the European interest(s)
Phase 1 of the project focuses on developing a sophisticated yet practically useful definition of the European interests. This includes the formation of a European Interest Study Group charged with providing input on the definition of the European interest(s). The members are selected from the expert community (think tankers, academics, former diplomats, and politicians). A select group of European citizens will then be asked to comment on a first definition to ensure that it also matches what they view as their interests. The German Marshall Fund will release a flagship publication offering a detailed definition of the European Interests, including the rationale behind its claims.
Phase 2: Launching the European Interest(s)
Phase 2 will carry the results of Phase 1 to audiences across Europe and the world to discuss the proposed definition. This phase will include a series of launch events offering a first critical assessment of the definition.
Phase 3: Working the European Interest(s)
In Phase 3 the project operationalizes the definition of the European Interest(s) by using it as the standard against which policy decisions and proposals around Europe are measured and assessed. This assessment would come in form of a “rolling index”: a series of publications over an extended period of time co-authored by analysts from all over Europe, using the defined standard again and again to evaluate political decisions against the European interest.