17 October 2022
On 14 October 2022, European Liberal Forum organised the 7th edition of the ‘Multiple Challenges for Transatlantic Partnerships’ conference in Prague, in collaboration with our members Institute for Politics and Society (IPPS) and Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF).
The annual conference, previously named at “Multiple Challenges for Europe” decided to focus more on the EU’s relations with its partners across the Atlantic, especially considering the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The conference focused on three different dimensions of transatlantic partnerships: economic, political and security.
The first panel, moderated by Andreas Elfving, Head of Policy at Swedish People’s Party (Finland), tackled the economic costs of the Russia-Ukraine war. Renew Europe MEP Ondřej Kovařík started the panel by emphasizing the importance of transatlantic cooperation, “We’ve seen very close cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic, with the US and Canada. We all share the same values and views on how to get through this difficult time. We’ve seen huge unity in terms of sanctions, military support to Ukraine. We should also be able to achieve that unity in the economic area. We’ve made a few attempts to bring the US closer to the EU, including via TTC, which eventually failed. But I think we should be able to overcome the differences on the economic side too. Now we focus on the energy crisis, but we’re not staring off the same place on both sides of the Atlantic and even within the EU”.
Dr. Antonios Nestoras, ELF Interim Executive Director, reminded the audience that the issues European countries face collectively should be tackled taking into account the acute and urgent crises we’re all experiencing right now: “It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue sustainable goals. But we’re dealing with extraordinary circumstances, we’re asking citizens to make sacrifices this winter. It’s not easy, but it’s the fundamental function of politics – to take 2 extremes & make them work in the real world. The cost of defending democracy doesn’t have a price tag. But we need to make sure that cost is divided fairly between different groups in our society. We have to take some short term measures to regulate prices of food, energy, etc. but we have to have a long term strategy for economic stability. This is a great challenge and the only way to succeed is to work together.”
The second panel, moderated by IPPS Analyst Jan Havlíček, focus on the many challenges that European democracy is faces from Authoritarian Politics. Andrea Keerbs, Resident Program Director of the International Republic Institute talked about the domestic situation in the US, adding that “The polarisation in America and Europe is one of the biggest challenges the transatlantic partnership is facing currently.” Financial Times journalist John Lloyd talked about the success of right-wing parties in Europe: “When two countries such as Italy and Sweden, who are nothing alike, vote in similar wew Right-wing parties, you can see the problem emerging in Europe at the moment”
The third and final panel, moderated by IPPS Analyst Roman Máca, had the toughest missing to find countermeasures to Russian aggression and blackmailing. Dr Benedetta Berti, Policy Planning Chief at NATO, mentioned that “2014 is when Europe began a shift in defence spending and military thinking. Since then Europe has begun to take this more seriously. The glass is half full in terms of the support the West has delivered to Ukraine this year. From there we can see what more we can do to add to the existing initiatives.” Mark Pfeifle, Former White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Global Outreach agreed that “Russia is in a tough situation right now because of the will of the Ukrainian people and their political leaders. Leaders around the world must continue to add pressure on Russia.” The message from the panelists was unanimous and aligned – more support to Ukraine and Ukrainian people, to help them win the war.
You can watch the full livestream of the event below: