Kick-off Foresight Conference on War and the Future of Europe

Warsaw talking about the war and the future of Europe

21 September 2022

Key takeaways from 15-16 September 2022 discussions on four scenarios for European democratic security from the point of view of the CEE opinion leaders and in the context of the war in Ukraine.

In the State of the Union address, Ursula von der Leyen said that Central Europe was not listened to. Now, in the context of the war, when the EU is listening to the voices of the region, we are bringing forward a strategic foresight mapping out scenarios about the future of Europe from the Central European perspective. By engaging civil society leaders across CEE, we are amplifying a democratic security perspective on Europe and building a real transnational debate. This is what really matters for us at Visegrad Insight – said Wojciech Przybylski, Editor-in-chief, at the opening.

He added that one of the main drivers for the report was the lacklustre participation of Poland and other CEE countries in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

There is so much demand for the voice of Central Europe, but this region never had one voice – commented Małgorzata Kopka-Piątek from the Institute of Public Affairs. She elaborated that – when reading the report from the Polish lens, I wondered if this is the scenario from a change in government or with the government remaining. I then realised that no matter what the outcome of the elections will be, these scenarios are still viable.

From where I stand, I believe CEE was not heard recently and listening to them could have helped prevent this situation, the War in Ukraine. – stated Oksana Forostyna, a Visegrad Insight Marcin Król Fellow and Europe’s Futures Fellow IWM/ERSTE Foundation from Ukraine.

The EU, before 24 February, was heading down the first scenario, ‘Losing Strategic Autonomy,’ for the short term. Right now, it looks the same. The last scenario looks very likely in the future. France has experienced the yellow jackets, and we can see them taking all of Europe – foreboded Romain Le Quiniou, co-founder and managing director of Euro Creative from France.

We have reason to be optimistic as Europe has been able to get through crises up until this point, and there is no reason to believe it cannot get past this one. Coming to Warsaw from Berlin is always great; I find the country’s optimism refreshing. – remarked Philipp Fritz, a correspondent from WELT from Germany.

On 15 September 2022, Visegrad Insight held its opened its two-day Conference to discuss our latest foresight report outlining four scenarios on the war and the Future of Europe. The first session was live-streamed on Facebook. The panel was opened with a presentation by the editor-in-chief and author of the report, Wojciech Przybylski, which then led to a panel discussion with Małgorzata Kopka-Piątek (Institute of Public Affairs, Poland), Philipp Fritz (WELT, Germany), Romain Le Quiniou (Euro Créative, France) and Oksana Forostyna (Visegrad Insight Marcin Król Fellow and Europe’s Futures Fellow IWM/ERSTE Foundation, Ukraine).


Political debates with Polish MPs

Then a discussion chaired by Marcin Zaborowski (Senior Fellow at Visegrad Insight) and members of the Polish opposition, Michał Szczerba (MP, Civic Coalition) and Michał Marcinkiewicz (Campus Polska, Former Member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland), were briefed on the report giving thoughts and opinions on the scenarios.

The first topic raised was that the current ruling party is leading to the marginalisation of Poland within the EU and that the government is costing Poland millions in funds and legal fees. From the poles, it looks like the opposition will win the next election.

The speakers then moved on to strategic autonomy and its necessity due to the current war in Ukraine. The Polish opposition has been pushing harder sanctions on Russia and Russians since 24 February.

Finally, they spoke about electoral strategy and that one key area where the opposition is increasing its voter count is among the young. With the second organisation of Campus Polska, we were able to increase our poll numbers amongst this key demographic. We are also raising a new generation of politically active individuals who will safeguard Polish democracy.

After the coffee with the opposition, a meeting was held in the Sejm with a member of the ruling party MP Kacper Płażyński (PiS, Head of the Political Sub-Committee on the Conference on the Future of Europe), on the report and what is the government’s strategy toward the region and the wider world.

Key topics raised by MP Płażyński were that Germany, due to its long-standing cooperation with Russian business interests, has lost a lot of goodwill in the region, and the SPD continues to show its lack of commitment to Ukraine with how it has treated former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who after his job went to the board of Gazprom. When asked about the Polish Hungarian friendship, he said that the government disagreed with Hungary’s stance on Ukraine and its lack of solidarity on gas.

When the floor was opened to Visegrad Insight fellows, he was asked by Ruslanas Iržikevičius – How can the government continue to work with China and keep up relations when from a moral point of view, they have a similar track record to Russia when it comes to human rights violations? 

He answered that trade with China is something that all the EU does and is an opportunity for Poland and CEE countries to collect taxes from goods entering the country.

Then Tomasz Kasprowicz (Visegrad Insight) remarked that you are speaking about sanctions on Russian oil, but what about the purchase of LOTOS and the selling of gas stations to Hungarian company MOL, which has Russian capital investments?

The Parliamentarian answered that his statement is untrue. There is no Russian capital in MOL, and the amount that we sold was very little compared to what we gained from buying LOTOS.

Breakfast with Ambassadors

On the second day of the Conference, 16 September 2022, Visegrad Insight held a meeting with the diplomatic community in Warsaw, briefing them about the report and scenarios.

One of the attendees said that the East Asian perspective on CEE with regard to the war in Ukraine is that they are watching and taking note. Another important remark from the two attendees is that with the joining of Sweden and Finland into NATO, the strategic fabric of CEE has altered, and the region has much to learn in defence from Sweden and Finland.

Closed-doors fellows meeting

After the meeting with ambassadors, Visegrad Insight held a closed-door event with their fellows devoted to planning themes to be further covered by authors and fellows. Topics discussed were Ukraine’s perspective regarding Europe with Christine Karelska and Malek Banat, followed by the War in Ukraine and the future of the rule of law in the EU with Krzysztof Izdebski, Oksana Forostyna, Edit Zgut and Spasimir Domaradzki.

The third panel was concerning the new media law in the EU and the electoral races with Pavel Havlíček, Alina Bârgăoanu, Filip Konopczyński and Asya Metodieva. Then to round it all off, there was the topic of Russia, China and the question of European autonomy was discussed by Merili Arjakas, Radu Albu-Comanescu, Aliaksei Kazharski and Wojciech Przybylski.


After the final panel, the Warsaw Conference ended with more meetings planned in Paris and Brussels.

Before the Warsaw Conference, there were previous meetings discussing the CEE perspective on the future of Europe. Find out more here.


Get free access to the report with a discount code
at checkout


Main Report Page
Executive Summary
Four Scenarios
About the Project


Weekly updates with our latest articles and the editorial commentary.