The Conference on the Future May Divide Europe

Civil Society Should Seize Its Chance to Speak Out Against It

31 May 2021

Wojciech Przybylski


Whether the Conference on the Future of Europe will be another boring bureaucratic exercise or create an opportunity for treaty change, some countries are already pondering their strategies towards this deliberative exercise.

  • While the Brussels bubble seems to believe it can control the conference process and prevent any disruption, Budapest and Warsaw may rely on black-PR operatives trained over the years on global social media platforms to push sovereignist narratives and troll federalist ideas on the conference platform.
  • Civil society in Central Europe needs to take a stand and speak out for its future in the European project.

The new conference format of talks on the bloc’s future initiated officially last weekend prompts new risks to the unity of the European Union. Brussels’ eternal policy optimism underpins the deliberative exercise.

Yet, some governments like Hungary, Poland or Slovenia are considering using reverse sentiments to sponsor their agenda and contribute to the electoral mobilisation.

If they succeed they will only legitimise the political narrative of an East-West divide, thereby further undermining the whole European project, unless a response by civil society can go far beyond the format set by the Conference organisers.


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Wojciech Przybylski


Political analyst heading Visegrad Insight's policy foresight on European affairs. His expertise includes foreign policy and political culture. Editor-in-Chief of Visegrad Insight and President of the Res Publica Foundation. Europe's Future Fellow at IWM - Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and Erste Foundation. Wojciech also co-authored a book 'Understanding Central Europe’, Routledge 2017. He has been published in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, Journal of Democracy, EUObserver, Project Syndicate, VoxEurop, Hospodarske noviny, Internazionale, Zeit, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Onet, Gazeta Wyborcza and regularly appears in BBC, Al Jazeera Europe, Euronews, TRT World, TVN24, TOK FM, Swedish Radio and others.


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