European Exchange

Foreign officials offered key insights about Europe’s political challenges in visits this past year hosted by the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice.

Josep Borrell Fontelles speaking
Josep Borrell Fontelles

At the 14th annual Emile Noël Lecture last September, Josep Borrell Fontelles, former president of the European Parliament and Spain’s current minister of foreign affairs for the European Union, sat down with Joseph Straus Professor of Law J.H.H. Weiler to discuss rising tensions in the EU, including the conflict between progressive Eurocentric ideology and a resurgent nationalistic populism. According to Borrell, while some countries see the acceptance of Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants as essential, others see a threat to deeply held national identities. Although data does not show a mass migration, Borrell said, “people feel the anger and the fear that a lot of people are coming [who] are different and taking away jobs, and more important than that, they are changing our identity.”

Mateusz Morawiecki
Mateusz Morawiecki

Weiler and Borrell also discussed the weakening of multilateralism as the United States withdraws from international alliances, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, which seeks to mitigate climate change, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to limit Iran’s nuclear power. “In some strange way,” Weiler said, “there’s a kind of opportunity for Europe here.”

In April, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland conversed with Weiler as part of the Monnet Center’s Transatlantic Dialogue series. Morawiecki stressed the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, citing Russian incursions into Georgia and Ukraine. “This is why we have to be vigilant,” he said. Weiler also asked Morawiecki about Poland’s controversial moves to overhaul its judiciary and to outlaw claims that Poland participated in the Holocaust.

Posted September 4, 2019