20-21 September 2018, Leuven
Theme of the Symposium
The European Union’s (EU) commitment to the pursuit of a ‘principled’ foreign policy is well-grounded in the provisions of the EU Treaties. The implementation of this commitment, however, has been found wanting in numerous instances, making scholars frequently question the way and the extent to which values and ideals, such as the promotion of the rule of law and human rights, clash with material interests in EU external relations. Faced with a hardening international environment and domestic crises, the EU appears to be adjusting some of its rhetoric and action: the 2016 Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, for example, speaks of the ‘principled pragmatism’ which should guide the EU’s external action in the years ahead. The Symposium will address, in addition to the EU’s acts and omissions abroad concerning the trinity of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, problems and challenges regarding the EU’s internal capacity on safeguarding democracy, human rights and the rule of law within its own Member States, and relating to its promotion of these values and principles on the international stage. It will also examine how current contestation of the European project and of a rules-based and cooperative international order may affect the EU’s ability to promote and uphold its core values, both within and beyond its borders. The nature and impact of this multifaceted legitimacy crisis will thus be taken into account, looking into the constraints and opportunities this may hold for the EU as a global actor and the challenges the EU faces in regaining the trust of European citizens.
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