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The inaugural conference for Brussels’ newest think tank will not pull any punches in asking tough questions – and coming up with answers that may be uncomfortable for some to hear in the “Brussels bubble”.

The conference, titled “Towards European renewal: whither Europe in an age of global disorder?” is a first for the new think tank MCC Brussels. The conference is being held today November 15that Brussels landmark Atomium. The conference comes in the context of both the Covid pandemic and war in Ukraine. The organizers say both have raised existential questions for Europe, shattering many old certainties and calling old ideas into question, with a mood of disorientation haunting Europe.

Conference highlights:

  • MCC Brussels calls on Europeans to take diversity of thought seriously
  • Chair of international relations, University of Bath, Bill Durodié urges European elites to start taking seriously values and aspirations of ordinary people
  • Professor Nigel Biggar previews his forthcoming book ‘Colonialism: A moral reckoning’,calling on the West to rediscover its moral confidence and stop apologising for its past
  • Writer and commentator Thomas Fazi demands European politicians defend the nation state and reject supranationalism

Frank Furedi, executive director of MCC Brussels, said “Considering the many challenges we face it is as shame that the European Union does not take diversity seriously and is very selective about the diversity it favours. At this conference, we break the mould, and make the case for celebrating true diversity. We delve into the rich diversity of views and take seriously the diversity in national cultures and the values they hold.”

The chair of international relations, University of Bath, and visiting professor to MCC Brussels, Professor Bill Durodié spoke at the conference and on the panel that addresses Culture Wars over Values: Europe at a Crossroads. Professor Durodié said:

“Jean Monnet famously said that ‘Europe will be forged in crisis’. Yet, each time - from the financial crisis, through responses to COVID and now war in Ukraine - the EU has been found lacking. Why is that? We need to grapple with the forces that have undermined European unity and challenge them head on. What is needed is to re-engage ordinary people around the values that matter to them, as opposed to the values that captivate European elites.”

Professor Nigel Biggar, the regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at University of Oxford, addressed the themes of his forthcoming book Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning. He called on Europe to take seriously its past, saying, “The culture-war over colonialism is mainly about the present, not the past. It’s about the self-confidence of the liberal West while under threat from ruthlessly illiberal regimes in Moscow and Beijing. For if it were true that the record of the West’s global dominance is nothing but a litany of racism, exploitation, and indiscriminate violence, who would want to keep faith with it? But it isn’t true.” 

Speaking on the panel entitled “Global disorder: What’s at stake for Europe?” Thomas Fazi, Italian journalist and writer; author of The Battle for Europe: how an elite hijacked a continent - and how we can take it back said:

“Over the past decade, the EU has failed to meet the challenges of our time. In particular, it suffers from a democratic void and its market-oriented policies have held back the welfare, rights and democratic aspirations of the European people. Today, with the war on the European continent, we can add a new item to the list of failures: its geopolitical ineptitude. Its role in the war – which I would argue amounts to a proxy war waged by the United States – is leading to Europe’s economic suicide. The only way to avoid being dragged into the abyss is for European peoples to take charge of their own destiny by freeing themselves of the worst excesses of EU supranationalism and embracing once again the nation state.”

The conference is attended by participants from leading Brussels institutions and from all over Europe. Speakers and participants came from many parts of Europe including Poland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and Germany. MCC Brussels will be a home for European intellectuals to engage in honest and open debate on the key problems we face and for young people to learn about Europe and its institutions.