- Gerald Knaus, Chairman of the European Stability Initiative
- Rosa Balfour, Director of Carnegie Europe
- Zsuzsanna Szelényi, Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy
Many European countries introduced states of emergency in order to tackle the Coronavirus crisis. And there is strong evidence that some governments have abused the opportunity to expand their political power. This is certainly the case in Hungary and Poland, where illiberal leaderships have for years stoked concern in the EU. But ethno-populist parties with agendas much like Hungary’s Fidesz and Poland’s Law and Justice party are prominent in many other European countries as well, and they can grow larger as a result of the social anxiety exacerbated by the pandemic.
The EU has long hesitated over how to respond to rule-breaking members states. The weak legal tools, particular interest and lack of political will has stopped Europe’s political elite from developing an effective strategy to deal with undemocratic family members. And the Coronavirus pandemic will adversely impact Europe's economy and society for years to come, fueling such governments and parties. Europe’s leaders must act decisively to protect pluralist, democratic society. But how?
The discussion will address such questions as: Will autocratization impact the EU’s ability to act effectively? Can the EU survive if ever more member states deny the primacy of rule of law and norms of liberal democracy? Could European foreign policy face yet greater challenges in the crisis’s aftermath? What can the EU do to stop these troubling trends?
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